Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Current practices in managing acutely disturbed patients at three hospitals in Rio de Janeiro-Brazil: a prevalence study

Gisele Huf1*, Evandro da Silva Freire Coutinho2, Hugo M Fagundes3, Edmar S Oliveira4, Jose Ramon RA Lopez5, Marcio Gewandszajder, Andreia da Luz Carvalho, Alexandre Keusen and Clive E Adams6

Author Affiliations

1 Ministry of Health – Brazil

2 National School of Public Health, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil

3 Department of Health, County of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

4 Psychiatric Centre Pedro II, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

5 University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

6 Cochrane Schizophrenia Group, University of Leeds, UK

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BMC Psychiatry 2002, 2:4  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-2-4

Published: 22 January 2002



The medical management of aggressive and violent behaviour is a critical situation for which there is little evidence. In order to prepare for a randomised trial, due to start in the psychiatric emergency rooms of Rio de Janeiro in 2001, a survey of current practice was necessary.


A seven day survey of pharmacological management of aggressive people with psychosis in the emergency rooms of all four public psychiatric hospitals in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


In one hospital data were not available. Of the 764 people with psychosis attending these ERs, 74 were given IM medication for rapid tranquillisation (9.7%, 2.1/week/100,000). A haloperidol-promethazine mix (with or without other drugs) was used for the majority of patients (83%).


The haloperidol-promethazine mix, given intramuscularly for rapid tranquilization, is prevalent in Rio, where it is considered both safe and efficient. However, scientific evaluation of all pharmacological approaches to rapid tranquilization of psychotic people is inadequate or incomplete and a randomized trial of IM haloperidol-promethazine is overdue.