A comparison of resource utilization in the management of anticholinergic delirium between physostigmine and nonantidote therapy Journal Article uri icon


  • Background: Antimuscarinic delirium is associated with significant morbidity, and its management requires substantial resource allocation, including intubation, restraint, and intensive care unit (ICU) placement. There is controversy over the management of these patients. Physostigmine can rapidly reverse antimuscarinic delirium but has been associated with adverse effects. Objective: This study aims to assess the effect of physostigmine use on resource allocation and adverse events. Methods: This is a retrospective chart review of patients with an antimuscarinic toxidrome at a single hospital approved by the local institutional review board. A blinded abstractor recorded data from patient charts. Whether the patient was given physostigmine, intubated, restrained, or admitting to critical care was recorded. We recorded instances of seizure, vomiting, or bradycardia. The primary aim was to compare frequency of intubation as a function of physostigmine administration. Results: A total of 141 patients were identified. We found no difference between the groups in age, gender, or initial heart rate; 65 (46%) were given physostigmine, 45 (32%) were admitted to the ICU, and 29 (20%) were intubated. Patients who received physostigmine in the first 24 hours were less likely to be intubated and less likely to be admitted to an ICU. The instance of bradycardia (n = 16), vomiting (n = 27), and seizures (n = 7) was limited, and there were no significant differences between the groups. There were no associations noted between physostigmine administration and adverse effects. Conclusion and Relevance: This study demonstrated that physostigmine use is associated with decreased resource utilization (including intubation and ICU placement) without increasing rates of bradycardia, vomiting, or seizures.

Link to Article

publication date

  • 2019