Haloperidol use is associated with lower hospital mortality in mechanically ventilated patients

Crit Care Med. 2005 Jan;33(1):226-9; discussion 263-5. doi: 10.1097/01.ccm.0000150743.16005.9a.


Objective: To determine whether haloperidol use is associated with lower mortality in mechanically ventilated patients.

Design: Retrospective cohort analysis.

Setting: A large tertiary care academic medical center.

Patients: A total of 989 patients mechanically ventilated for >48 hrs.

Measurements and main results: We compared differences in hospital mortality between patients who received haloperidol within 2 days of initiation of mechanical ventilation and those who never received haloperidol. Despite similar baseline characteristics, patients treated with haloperidol had significantly lower hospital mortality compared with those who never received haloperidol (20.5% vs. 36.1%; p = .004). The lower associated mortality persisted after adjusting for age, comorbidity, severity of illness, degree of organ dysfunction, admitting diagnosis, and other potential confounders.

Conclusions: Haloperidol was associated with significantly lower hospital mortality. These findings could have enormous implications for critically ill patients. Because of their observational nature and the potential risks associated with haloperidol use, they require confirmation in a randomized, controlled trial before being applied to routine patient care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Conscious Sedation
  • Critical Care*
  • Critical Illness / mortality
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Delirium / drug therapy
  • Delirium / mortality
  • Female
  • Haloperidol / adverse effects
  • Haloperidol / therapeutic use*
  • Hospital Mortality*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / adverse effects
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychomotor Agitation / drug therapy
  • Psychomotor Agitation / mortality
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / mortality


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Haloperidol