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Intranasal Lorazepam for Treatment of Severe Agitation in a Pediatric Behavioral Health Patient in the Emergency Department

Joan S. Bregstein, MD∗,jsb61@cumc.columbia.edu

The treatment of severe agitation, aggression, and violent behavior in behavioral health patients who present to the emergency department (ED) often requires the intramuscular administration of a sedative. However, administering an intramuscular sedative to an uncooperative patient is associated with the risk of needlestick injuries to both patients and health care providers, and times to onset of sedation range from 15 to 45 minutes. Intranasal absorption is more rapid than intramuscular, with sedatives such as lorazepam reaching peak serum concentrations up to 6 times faster when administered intranasally. We present the first report of using intranasal lorazepam as a needle-free method of providing rapid and effective sedation to treat severe agitation in a pediatric behavioral health patient presenting to the ED.




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