Acute behavioural disturbance can occur in the context of psychiatric illness, substance misuse, personality disorder and secondary to underlying medical conditions. The behaviour is often driven by psychotic beliefs, agitation, fear, anger, and complex emotions.

Rapid Tranquilization, when used appropriately, is an emergency measure which can be used to effectively manage disturbed or violent behaviour. It should not be routinely resorted to or administered.

It is essential that alternative strategies are considered prior to the use of RT, including de-escalation measures and restrictive interventions.

The aim of the intervention is to quickly calm a patient down and reduce the risk of further violence and harm to themselves or others as opposed to treating any underlying psychiatric illness or medical cause. RT should be used to sedate a patient (not to induce unconsciousness or sleep), so that the patient can be involved in further assessments.

RT requires the use of pharmacological psychotropic agents over a short period of time to achieve rapid control of extreme agitation, aggression, and violence, which places the patients or those around them at risk of physical harm.

The use of medication to calm a patient down is not without risks and can be distressing for service users.

As such RT should be used in a way that ensures the safety of patients, relatives and staff, and maintains their dignity and respect.


Policy Details

Download: N/A
Compiled by: Josie Jenkinson, Nketia Obed-Arthur
Ratified by: Drugs and Therapeutics Committee
Date Ratified: January 2024
Date Issued: February 2024
Review Date: January 2026
Target Audience: Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists caring for pertinent patients.
Contact name: Josie Jenkinson, Nketia Obed-Arthur


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