The Use, Safety, and Efficacy of Olanzapine in a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center Emergency Department Over a 10-Year Period

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Olanzapine is a second-generation antipsychotic increasingly used in emergency medicine for many indications. Literature on its use in children is sparse. Our objectives were to describe the use, safety, and efficacy of olanzapine in pediatric emergency patients.


A structured chart review was performed of patients 18 years old or younger receiving olanzapine from 2007 to 2016 in the emergency department of a pediatric level I trauma center.


A total of 285 children received olanzapine. Mean age was 16.4 years (range, 9–18 years); 121 were male (42.8%). Primary indications for olanzapine included agitation (n = 166, 58.3%), headache (n = 58, 20.4%), nausea/vomiting/abdominal pain (n = 37, 12.5%), unspecified pain (n = 20, 7%), and other (n = 4, 1.4%). Route of olanzapine administration was intramuscular (n = 160, 56%; median dose, 10 mg; range, 2.5–20), intravenous (n = 101, 36%; median dose, 5 mg; range, 1.25–5), and oral (n = 24, 8%; median dose, 10 mg; range, 5–10). For agitated patients, 28 (17%) received another sedative within 1 hour. For headache patients, 5 (8.6%) received another analgesic. For gastrointestinal complaints, 5 patients (13.5%) received another analgesic/antiemetic. Adverse respiratory events were hypoxia (pulse oximetry reading, in percentage, <92%; n = 7, 2.4%), supplemental oxygen placement (n = 9, 3.2%), and intubation (n = 2, 0.7%). No patient died or had a dysrhythmia. One patient experienced dystonia.


Olanzapine seems safe when used for a variety of conditions in pediatric emergency patients. It may be effective for acute agitation, primary headache, and gastrointestinal complaints.

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