Treatment of acute behavioural disturbance

Rebecca Jacob (Fulbourn Hospital, Cambridge, UK and Peterborough Mental Health Partnerships NHS Trust, Cambridge, UK)
Neil Hunt (Fulbourn Hospital, Cambridge, UK and Peterborough Mental Health Partnerships NHS Trust, Cambridge, UK)

Clinical Governance: An International Journal

ISSN: 1477-7274

Publication date: 1 December 2005



To improve the quality of care of patients who are given parenteral medication for an episode of disturbed or violent behaviour in the context of a psychotic illness.


Current guidelines are described, and adherence to the standards is audited, with particular emphasis on the performance of physical observations following an episode of behavioural disturbance. Comparisons are made with the findings of previous audits performed at Addenbrooke's and Fulbourn Hospital, Cambridge.


The results revealed an improvement in following the guidelines whilst highlighting concerns regarding the unwarranted and potentially dangerous use of intravenous medication in these situations. The results also demonstrated a significant improvement in routine physical observations performed, following treatment of acute behavioural disturbance.

Practical implications

Careful risk management is needed when considering the safety of both patients and staff when dealing with behaviourally disturbed psychotic patients.


The completion of this audit cycle suggests that regular review and dissemination of guidelines, as well as conducting a comprehensive audit cycle, have led to safer prescribing and evidence based practice.



Jacob, R. and Hunt, N. (2005), "Treatment of acute behavioural disturbance", Clinical Governance: An International Journal, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 270-275.

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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