Podcast # 390: Haloperidol for Pain - The Emergency Medical Minute

Author: Gretchen Hinson, MD

Educational Pearls:


  • Reasonable approach of haloperidol 10 mg IM (or 5 mg IV) for pain relief in opioid-dependent patients; can repeat once
  • Chronic opioid use results in hyperalgesia and a narrow therapeutic window in the long-term so alternatives are essential
  • Consider the risk of QTc prolongation with haloperidol, particularly if the patient is on other drugs that may do so

Editor’s note: Interested in more alternatives to opioids? Check out the Colorado ACEP Opioid Prescribing & Treatment Guidelines and the impact these have had in Colorado



Ramirez R, Stalcup P, Croft B, Darracq MA. Haloperidol undermining gastroparesis symptoms (HUGS) in the emergency department. Am J Emerg Med. 2017 Aug;35(8):1118-1120. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2017.03.015. Epub 2017 Mar 12. PubMed PMID: 28320545.

Seidel S, Aigner M, Ossege M, Pernicka E, Wildner B, Sycha T. Antipsychotics for acute and chronic pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Aug 29;(8):CD004844. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004844.pub3. Review. PubMed PMID: 23990266.

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