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AAN issues position statement on the term "excited delirium"

“Excited delirium” is a term that has been used to describe non-specific symptoms including severe agitation, erratic behaviors, perceived “imperviousness to pain,” and “superhuman strength.” The term has been used in the context of, or as a rationale for, administration of ketamine or other sedative/hypnotic or dissociative agents outside of a hospital setting. “Excited delirium” lacks clear validated diagnostic criteria. The current body of evidence does not support the use of “excited delirium” as a medical diagnosis, nor does it support substituting a different but similar phrase.

The AAN emphasizes that persons who are agitated, confused, or exhibiting other abnormal behavioral or concerning symptoms, must be evaluated by medical personnel to investigate and address potential underlying causes as these may be due to medical conditions requiring urgent treatment. These symptoms should not be assigned a presumptive cause prior to an appropriate clinical assessment and investigation. It is the AAN’s position that all persons having abnormal behavioral or other concerning symptoms should be thoroughly evaluated by trained medical personnel to determine the most appropriate treatment in accordance with established best practices.

Source: News Release
American Academy of Neurology
March 29,

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