Use of haloperidol in PCP-intoxicated individuals

Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2012 Nov;50(9):851-3. doi: 10.3109/15563650.2012.722222. Epub 2012 Sep 12.


Context: Emergency medical workers often experience violence while performing their job functions. Phencyclidine (PCP)-intoxicated patients are often violent and difficult to control physically. A chemical restraint is frequently needed to assist in protecting both patients and staff from agitated persons.

Objective: This study evaluated haloperidol as a chemical restraint in PCP-intoxicated patients.

Methods: This is a retrospective case series of all PCP-positive patients who received haloperidol for behavioral control from April 2008 to April 2011 at a single large (944 bed), urban, tertiary-care hospital. All patients receiving haloperidol and having a toxicology screen positive for PCP were identified using an electronic medical record. Identified cases were then manually reviewed by investigators for adverse events.

Results: Subjects included 59 adult patients who were acutely agitated requiring chemical restraint or sedation with haloperidol, and who tested positive for PCP. There were 20 females and 39 males, ranging in age from 19 to 54 years. Patients received haloperidol via the PO, IM, or IV routes in doses ranging from 1 to 10 mg. There were two adverse events (mild hypoxia and mild hypotension) found during chart review; neither were serious nor required change in patient disposition.

Conclusions: In this study, haloperidol does not seem to cause harm when used in the management of PCP-intoxicated patients. Caution must always be exercised in the use of chemical restraint; further prospective study is warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electrocardiography / drug effects
  • Female
  • Haloperidol / adverse effects
  • Haloperidol / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phencyclidine / poisoning*
  • Psychomotor Agitation / drug therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Phencyclidine
  • Haloperidol