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Haloperidol: Did It Cause the Respiratory Arrest?

Lewis Glickman, MD
JAMA. 1992;267(1):54-55. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480010062018.
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To the Editor.  —I wish to take issue with Bedell and colleagues' characterization as an "overdose" of 2 mg of intramuscular haloperidol given "for agitation" to "an 80-year-old, 34-kg woman with a respiratory illness" who "subsequently had a respiratory arrest."1 If 2 mg was an overdose responsible for the patient's respiratory arrest, haloperidol would either have to depress the medullary respiratory center or, simply by putting the patient to sleep, would have to decrease the respiratory rate enough to cause respiratory failure.Haloperidol, unlike the benzodiazepines, does not depress the medullary respiratory center. Unlike the other drugs reported by the authors to have caused "iatrogenic cardiac arrests,"


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