Antipsychotics are Common for the Mechanically Ventilated


Annals of Pharmacotherapy reports in a study of patients undergoing mechanical ventilation that 39% were given antipsychotic medication to prevent or treat delirium despite a lack of evidence to support its use. Monitoring for adverse side effects was infrequent. Results appeared online February 5, 2013.

Abstract →

Al-Qadheeb, N., O’Connor, H., White, A., Antipsychotic Prescribing Patterns, and the Factors and Outcomes Associated with Their Use, Among Patients Requiring Prolonged Mechanical Ventilation in the Long-Term Acute Care Hospital Setting. Annals of Pharmacotherapy. Online February 5, 2013

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. When my mother was in the hospital, we reviwed her chart and saw that she had been started on Haldol in the hospital. When we asked about this, we were told that this is standard practice, that antipsychotic drugs are routinely given to older adults in the hospital because “they need help to sleep”. This is in spite of the Black Box warning for antipsychotic drugs for older adults with no diagnosis based on the 60-70% increased mortality rate in these older adults. Hospital staff were unaware of this issue, and were fairly hostile when we said that we did not want her to be given any more of these types of drugs. We had to speak to several staff, and it was a big deal to get her off Haldol. This practice of giving all older adults in the hospital this class of drugs as a standard practice raises issues of off-label use; lack of informed decision-making; need to investigate whether there is promotion by industry of this practice as a normal and standard one; understanding that there is a need to monitor care of people in the hospital, especially certain groups of people who are perceived by staff as less able to understand or make decisions. This incident brought home to me again the widely held beliefs and practices in US society that all drugs are beneficial; inadequate awareness on the part of staff about adverse effects and drugs warnings; belief that staff are to make decisions and patients are to be compliant; and difficulty of dialogues with staff on issues they believe thay are experts on.

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  2. My son was given olanzapine when he became delirious because of an infection. He developed NMS on it and nearly died yet the doctors continued to give him the antipsychotic and I had to take him off it without their and permission or help. I have read a study on the Internet that giving an antipsychotic for delirium is not recomended because of the fever and the danger of developing NMS. The doctors don’t seem to be aware of it.

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  3. This is what happens when psychiatry’s pseudoscience convinces real doctors that neuroleptics are “antipsychotic medication” that treat hallucinations and such. There needs to be an effort to educate real doctors on the fraud that is psychiatric research and re-educate them about the actual effect that these drugs produce — a dampening of brain function as a result of serious brain impairment.

    This is absolutely sickening. I felt terrible when I read this. The most terrible I have ever felt reading anything on this site. Nobody is safe anymore. I can remember some of the agonizing, panic-inducing reactions that I had to some of these drugs as a kid… And now to imagine suffering that while being conscious but incapacitated while hooked to a machine… That’s just among’st the worst sort of torture the human species has ever performed. Just imagine waking up out of that to the serious neurological problems — panic attacks, movement disorders, ect — that are likely to occur as either withdrawal or brain damage.

    I woke up laying in bed early unable to stop thinking about something similar to this. How such atrocities are performed by well meaning people millions of times a day and how it’s only possible because of “medicine” and how it functions in society. I remember as a kid in a mental hospital how they would check our mouths to make sure we wouldn’t hiding the pills to spit them out, and I would think to myself “doesn’t this tell them something? Why would anybody want to spit out a medicine that is helping them, as opposed to a poison that is hurting them? How can they still be so oblivious to what they’re doing?”

    I now know how. Because they think it’s medicine, and the stupid mental patient who perceives that it’s hurting him isn’t a doctor, so the a medical believer is to trust that the medication is helping, even when it’s obviously hurting, and in effect can see themselves as good and virtuous, even when they are being truly despicable by bringing amazing amounts of suffering to the world. They shouldn’t be able to live with themselves, yet they are proud of themselves… The power of a medical delusion.

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    • Well stated. Medicine has become a dangerous thing to everyone. I think that I read a stat that said that 100,000 people die every year in the United States due to the “medicines” that they were given. The medical profession is the only profession today that no one questions; people bow down and do as they’re told because they believe that doctors know what they’re doing. Work in a hospital for a few years and you quickly learn that many of them make huge mistakes. However, since it’s a brotherhood, they cover for one another and keep the mistakes from making it into the newspapers.

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