Impact of acutely behavioural disturbed patients in the emergency department: A prospective observational study [2018]

The present study describes patients with acute behavioural disturbance presenting to the ED, the impact they have on the department and any complications that occur.

We performed a prospective observational study of adult patients (>17 years old) requiring parenteral sedation for acute behavioural disturbance over a 13 month period. Demographic data, mode of arrival, indication, drug type and dosing used for sedation were collected. Departmental data were recorded including the staff type and numbers involved and the condition of the department. The main outcomes were complications from sedative medication and injury sustained to patients or staff.

Over the study period 173 patients met inclusion criteria, the majority (n = 104, 60%) were men with a mean age of 38.5 years (standard deviation 14.4); 51% of patients had more than one indication for sedation (n = 89), the commonest being mental health related plus drug intoxication (n = 30, 33.7%). Intoxication was frequently from either alcohol (n = 62, 47%) or methamphetamine (n = 41, 31%). The median number of staff involved was 10 (interquartile range 8–12). Staff members received an injury in 12% (n = 20) of sedations, with only 1% (n = 2) of patients receiving any physical injury; 12% (n = 20) had a minor complication from the sedation medication. No patient had any major complication (apnoea, intubation, arrhythmias or cardiac arrest).

Patients with acute behavioural disturbance often have a history of mental illnesses and are commonly intoxicated. These patients have impacts on healthcare resources and pose risks to staff safety, but significant complications to patients do not occur frequently.

Matthew Oliver Aaron A Adonopulos Paul S Haber Michael M Dinh Tim Green Tim Wand Alexandre Vitte Dane Chalkley

Emergency Medicine Australasia, 19 September 2018