Delirium and agitation can be devastating and prolong the length of hospitalization. As part of our continuous improvement efforts, we implemented the use of intermittent chlorpromazine therapy to target refractory agitation associated with hyperactive or mixed delirium (RAA-D). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of chlorpromazine on RAA-D and delirium symptoms as well as any adverse effects in critically ill children.


Retrospective chart review was conducted for children admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit who were treated with chlorpromazine for RAA-D from March 2017 to January 2019. The primary end point was to determine differences in Cornell Assessment for Pediatric Delirium (CAPD) and State Behavioral Scale (SBS) scores 24 hours before and after chlorpromazine administration. The secondary end points were the 24-hour cumulative dosing of narcotic and sedative agents before and after chlorpromazine administration and adverse events associated with chlorpromazine use.


Twenty-six patients were treated with chlorpromazine for RAA-D; 16 (61.5%) were male with a median age of 14.5 months (IQR, 6–48). The mean CAPD (n = 24) and median SBS (n = 23) scores were significantly lower 24 hours after chlorpromazine use when compared to baseline scores, 12 vs 8.9 (p = 0.0021) and 1 vs −1, (p = 0.0005) respectively. No significant adverse effects were observed.


Chlorpromazine use in critically ill children with RAA-D was helpful for managing symptoms without adverse events. Further investigation is needed to evaluate the use of chlorpromazine to treat RAA-D to avoid long-term use of an antipsychotic.

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