Haldol Side Effects and Minimal Benefits Make Drug Unsuitable for Treating Delirium: Study

According to the findings of recent systematic reviews, researchers indicate Haldol and other similar antipsychotics provide little-to-no benefit when used to treat or prevent delirium among adult patients, and may exposure individuals to unnecessary side effects.

In findings published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers from  Johns Hopkins University conducted two separate reviews to evaluate the benefits and harms of patient’s diagnosed with delirium and treated with antipsychotics, specifically Haldol (haloperidol).

It is common for Haldol and other antipsychotic medications to be given to patients experiencing delirium, but the researchers indicate the drug does not offer any neurological benefits, and may be associated with higher risks of adverse cardiac events.

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As part of the systematic review, researchers used data from a total of 30 randomized control trials, comparing Haldol and other second-generation antipsychotics to a placebo group being treated for delirium, and found there was no difference in sedation status, delirium duration, and hospital length of stay or mortality. Additionally, little to no evidence was found showing improvement on cognitive function, delirium severity, inappropriate continuation and sedation.

According to the findings, the only notable difference between patients prescribed Haldol and the placebo group were more frequent occurrences of harmful cardiac events, which is a known potential Haldol side effect.

Delirium is a condition causing individuals to become severely confused or unable to focus, often resulting in problems with thinking and memory. The condition is a common syndrome in hospitalized patients, with a prevalence of approximately 20% in general populations of inpatients and up to 80% in Intensive Care Units. Patients experiencing delirium often inadvertently put themselves in dangerous situations or can be prone to falling and hurting themselves.

The overuse of antipsychotics such as Haldol as a form of “chemical restraint” have been commonly used among the elderly or those with signs of dementia in hospitals and nursing homes. Although the drugs are prescribed in those cases to calm patients and make them more controllable, studies have shown that antipsychotics not only fail to provide those patients with benefits, but could increase their risk of death.

Haldol is a second-generation antipsychotic which decreases excitement in the brain and is used specifically to control motor and verbal actions in those with behavioral problems.

Previous studies have found antipsychotic drugs have some serious potential side effects, including reduced alertness, decreased blood pressure, increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, and even movement disorders that resemble those seen in Parkinson’s.

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9 Comments

  • SaraJune 20, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    Haldol injection has caused me 2 cardiac arrests in last 2 yrs . I have PTSD & hypertension. I went into hospital severely traumatized, vomiting & convulsions from PTSD & sober! They misdiagnosis me as bipolar & on drugs & when they find out i have no drugs in my system they know it was the haldol that caused the cardiac arrest & the medical records get falsified. Plz help! Desperately trying to p[Show More]Haldol injection has caused me 2 cardiac arrests in last 2 yrs . I have PTSD & hypertension. I went into hospital severely traumatized, vomiting & convulsions from PTSD & sober! They misdiagnosis me as bipolar & on drugs & when they find out i have no drugs in my system they know it was the haldol that caused the cardiac arrest & the medical records get falsified. Plz help! Desperately trying to prevent this from happening again or to anyone else!

  • CatherineMay 29, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    My mother was put on haldol in the early 80s for over a decade while her 3 children were growing up. She also was administered shock therapy. Her behavior was strange and she was not herself while on this medication. Her pills were light blue. Her psychiatrist was 90 years old. Our family doctor would ask me how she was at appointments and I always said aweful. When I was around 25 I spoke with he[Show More]My mother was put on haldol in the early 80s for over a decade while her 3 children were growing up. She also was administered shock therapy. Her behavior was strange and she was not herself while on this medication. Her pills were light blue. Her psychiatrist was 90 years old. Our family doctor would ask me how she was at appointments and I always said aweful. When I was around 25 I spoke with her psychiatrist and she was taken off and attended therapy for other traumatic issues. I believe haldol made her life worse not better. Today she is much better. She has been negatively affected by this medical treatment. And so has her family.

  • DaniMay 2, 2021 at 5:35 pm

    My father passed away a week ago after hip surgery. He seemed fine, but later that night, his blood pressure dropped, so they moved him into ICCU, found out he suffered from valve blockage in his heart, and was advised that heart surgery was needed. My dad not understanding the whole scoop of things and since he was not able to communicate with his children due to visiting hours or not having his [Show More]My father passed away a week ago after hip surgery. He seemed fine, but later that night, his blood pressure dropped, so they moved him into ICCU, found out he suffered from valve blockage in his heart, and was advised that heart surgery was needed. My dad not understanding the whole scoop of things and since he was not able to communicate with his children due to visiting hours or not having his phone, got a little agitated, so they gave him Hadol. My dad was no longer the father I have known for 52 years. He was catatonic, delusional, and looked like he was petrified. I told the medical staff not to administer another dose of Hadol. My dad was due to have heart surgery the next morning to fix the blockage in his heart, but when the Cardiologist department noticed the state my father was in asked if my dad was suffering from withdrawals due to drinking. My dad does not drink alcohol, and that made me question, so we explained to them that the state our father was in was due from the Haldol given to him the night before. The look on their faces, confirmed my question, that my dad was suffering from a bad reaction to the drug Hadol. We canceled his surgery, due to the fact that my dad was in no shape to undergo another surgery. We would wait until he has regained strength and mobility from his hip surgery. Well, my dad never had time to heal from his hip surgery, because he died the next day. I understand that a hip surgery on a elderly person is invasive, but my dad had a lot of life left in him. He would have turned 89, but he looked and spoke with clarity and wit. My dad should not have died. The use of Hadol in the elderly should stop. The medical field knows the risk factor, but continues to administer it to the elderly patients, who are just scared. As a forum, we need to keep awareness alive, so in the future, loved ones don't have to loose a family member because that love one was administered a drug that was unwarranted.

  • PatriciaJanuary 4, 2021 at 6:34 am

    My sister is in ICU suffering from COPD, heart failure, severe obesity, diabetes She was given Haldol in hospital few days ago for agitation. She was never diagnosed with mental illness. Almost immediately she suffered acute respiratory problems. Now doctors talking about DNR. I am very upset that she has taken such a quick and severe turn for the Worse. PLEASE HELP!

  • AaronSeptember 24, 2020 at 1:36 am

    I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome at the age of six years old I was put on haloperidol three times a day from the age of six until the age of 17. I have never heard of anyone being on haloperidol for that many years. I am now about to turn 41 years old and I have noticed an extreme decline in my memory and my every day ability to focus on tasks. My Tourette’s is minimal and I no longer take[Show More]I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome at the age of six years old I was put on haloperidol three times a day from the age of six until the age of 17. I have never heard of anyone being on haloperidol for that many years. I am now about to turn 41 years old and I have noticed an extreme decline in my memory and my every day ability to focus on tasks. My Tourette’s is minimal and I no longer take anything for it but over the past five years or so I have become increasingly concerned about my memory loss and ability to focus on simple tasks.

  • LisaAugust 14, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    My mother died in nursing home shortly after being put on Haldol. We asked it be stopped numerous times when we noticed differences occurring in her. Please help us.

  • BrettDecember 13, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    It is unbelievable to me that no law firm will sue over haloperidol (Haldol). I believe that there are tens of thousands of veterans who are permanently disabled because of the VA. Haldol has been their go-to drug for anything from PTSD to full psychosis for many years.

  • MichaelNovember 17, 2019 at 1:29 am

    My doctor had me on Haldol for 3-1/2 years. I began suffering from Tardive Diskynesia during this time. I no longer can work and am on disability. Is this grounds for a lawsuit?

  • PercyNovember 14, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Can I sue before I have serious problems with the medicines I take and taken for my problem.

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