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Post-Mortem Antipsychotic Drug Concentrations and Unexplained Deaths

  • Nedzara Jusic (a1) and Malcolm Lader (a2)

Abstract

Background

The relationship between antipsychotic drug treatment and sudden unexplained death remains unclear. The estimation of post-mortem blood drug concentrations should be helpful.

Method

Eight medico-legal cases were reviewed with respect to behaviour of patient, type and dosage of drug treatment, mode of death, post-mortem findings and drug concentrations.

Results

The problems of evaluating such drug levels are discussed. Five of the eight patients had probably toxic concentrations of antipsychotic and/or antidepressants, which caused death, usually involving cardiac arrhythmias.

Conclusions

In cases of sudden unexpected death, a sample of blood from a peripheral vein should be obtained immediately death is pronounced or the body discovered, and sent for analysis. To minimise such fatalities, the patient should be monitored carefully, with ECG if feasible, and electrolyte balance checked. The drug regimen used should be kept simple and large doses of antipsychotics and/or antidepressants avoided wherever possible.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Professor M. Lader, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF

References

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Post-Mortem Antipsychotic Drug Concentrations and Unexplained Deaths

  • Nedzara Jusic (a1) and Malcolm Lader (a2)

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Post-Mortem Antipsychotic Drug Concentrations and Unexplained Deaths

  • Nedzara Jusic (a1) and Malcolm Lader (a2)
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