Study objective: We determine whether droperidol, midazolam, or the combination is more effective for intramuscular sedation in violent and acute behavioral disturbance in the emergency department (ED). Methods: We conducted a blinded randomized controlled trial of intramuscular sedation for violent and acute behavioral disturbance, comparing droperidol (10 mg), midazolam (10 mg), and droperidol (5 mg)/midazolam (5 mg). Inclusion criteria were patients requiring physical restraint and parenteral sedation. The primary outcome was the duration of the violent and acute behavioral disturbance, defined as the time security staff were required. Secondary outcomes included time until additional sedation was administered, staff and patient injuries, further episodes of violent and acute behavioral disturbance, and drug-related adverse effects. Results: From 223 ED patients with violent and acute behavioral disturbance, 91 patients were included; 33 received droperidol, 29 received midazolam, and 29 received the combination. There was no difference in the median duration of the violent and acute behavioral disturbance: 20 minutes (interquartile range [IQR] 11 to 37 min) for droperidol, 24 minutes (IQR 13 to 35 minutes) for midazolam, and 25 minutes (IQR 15 to 38 minutes) for the combination. Additional sedation was required in 11 (33%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 19% to 52%) droperidol patients, 18 (62%; 95% CI 42% to 79%) midazolam patients, and 12 (41%; 95% CI 24% to 61%) in the combination group. The hazard ratio for additional sedation in the midazolam versus droperidol group was 2.31 (95% credible interval 1.01 to 4.71); for the combination versus droperidol, 1.18 (95% credible interval 0.46 to 2.50). Patient and staff injuries and number of further episodes of violent and acute behavioral disturbance did not differ between groups. There were two adverse effects for droperidol (6%; 95% CI 1% to 22%), 8 for midazolam (28%; 95% CI 13% to 47%), and 2 for the combination (7%; 95% CI 1% to 24%). An abnormal QT occurred in 2 of 31 (6%; 95% CI 1% to 23%) droperidol patients, which was not different from the other groups. Conclusion: Intramuscular droperidol and midazolam resulted in a similar duration of violent and acute behavioral disturbance, but more additional sedation was required with midazolam. Midazolam caused more adverse effects because of oversedation, and there was no evidence of QT prolongation associated with droperidol compared with midazolam.
Annals of Emergency Medicine Vol. 56, Issue 4, p. 392-401