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ED Management Of Delirium and Agitation

January 2007

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Abstract

Delirium, which often presents with agitation, is a diagnosis that every emergency physician must be diligent in recognizing, evaluating, and treating. Indeed, agitation should be presumed to be a manifestation of delirium until proven otherwise. A potentially life-threatening etiology must be searched for and addressed. If agitation is severe, it requires urgent intervention to reduce potential danger to both patient and staff. Managing the agitated patient requires a coordinated approach that gains control of the situation while facilitating the diagnostic work-up. This issue of Emergency Medicine Practice provides a review of the current literature on delirium and a systematic approach to the management of undifferentiated agitation in the emergency department (ED).

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