Intravenous haloperidol: A systematic review of side effects and recommendations for clinical use

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2020 Nov-Dec;67:42-50. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2020.08.008. Epub 2020 Aug 22.


Introduction: Though not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, intravenous haloperidol (IVH) is widely used off-label to manage agitation and psychosis in patients with delirium in the hospital setting. Over the years, concerns have emerged regarding side effects of IVH, particularly its potential to cause QT prolongation, torsades de pointes (TdP), extrapyramidal symptoms and catatonia.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review of literature of published literature related to side effects of IVH in PubMed in accordance with PRISMA guidelines.

Results: 77 of 196 identified manuscripts met inclusion criteria, including 34 clinical trials and 34 case reports or series.

Discussion: Extrapyramidal symptoms, catatonia and neuroleptic malignant syndrome appears to be relatively rare with IVH. In most prospective studies, IVH did not cause greater QT prolongation than placebo, and rates of TdP with IVH appear to be low. There is not clear evidence to suggest that IVH carries greater risk for QT prolongation or TdP than other antipsychotics.

Conclusions: Based on the available literature, we provide modified evidence-based monitoring recommendations for clinicians prescribing IVH in hospital settings. Specifically, we recommend electrocardiogram monitoring only when using doses >5 mg of IVH and telemetry only for high-risk patients receiving cumulative doses of at least 100 mg or with accurately corrected QTc >500 ms.

Keywords: Catatonia; Extrapyramidal; Intravenous haloperidol; QT; Torsades de pointes.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Electrocardiography
  • Haloperidol / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Long QT Syndrome*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Torsades de Pointes*


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Haloperidol