of 1,789 critically ill adults at 21 ICUs in the Netherlands.
Haloperidol is used routinely in ICUs to both treat and prevent delirium, which strikes up to half of ICU patients and is associated with prolonged mechanical ventilation, longer ICU and hospital stays, and increased mortality. Results of past studies have been mixed, with some showing a benefit for haloperidol in the ICU and others not.
“These findings do not support the use of prophylactic haloperidol in critically ill adults,” said the authors of a new study, led by Mark van den Boogaard, PhD, of Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands ().
The subjects were all expected to be in the ICU for at least 2 days, and were not delirious at baseline. The patients were randomly assigned to receive one of two treatments or a placebo three times daily, with 350 receiving 1 mg of haloperidol; 732 receiving 2 mg of haloperidol; and 707 receiving a 0.9% sodium chloride placebo. The 1-mg haloperidol arm was stopped early because of futility.
There was no statistically significant difference in survival at the primary endpoint of 28 days following entrance into the study. At that point, 83.3% of the patients who received 2-mg does of haloperidol and 82.7% of the of the subjects who received the placebo were alive (absolute difference 0.6%, 95% confidence interval –3.4% to 4.6%).