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Management of Agitation During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Author(s): Wong, Ambrose H.
  • Roppolo, Lynn P.
  • Chang, Bernard P.
  • Yonkers, Kimberly A.
  • Wilson, Michael P.
  • Powsner, Seth
  • Rozel, John S.
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license
Abstract

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has radically altered delivery of care in emergency settings. Unprecedented hardship due to ongoing fears of exposure and threats to personal safety, along with societal measures enacted to curb disease transmission, have had broad psychosocial impact on patients and healthcare workers alike. These changes can significantly affect diagnosing and managing behavioral emergencies such as agitation in the emergency department. On behalf of the American Association for Emergency Psychiatry, we highlight unique considerations for patients with severe behavioral symptoms and staff members managing symptoms of agitation during COVID-19. Early detection and treatment of agitation, precautions to minimize staff hazards, coordination with security personnel and psychiatric services, and avoidance of coercive strategies that cause respiratory depression will help mitigate heightened risks to safety caused by this outbreak.

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