The term "excited delirium" has been used for years by law enforcement and other first responders, including health care workers, to describe people who exhibit behavior that is considered "out of control." This diagnosis has been applied again and again, even posthumously, as a justification for extreme and sometimes deadly, interventions by law enforcement. It came up most recently in the trials of two police officers accused of causing the death of Elijah McClain, a Colorado man; both officers were acquitted this week.
But excited delirium is not an evidence-based medical diagnosis. The American College of Emergency Physicians recently withdrew a 2009 white paper endorsing the concept, and California has banned it as a cause of death. Other states may follow suit. This week, we are joined by emergency phyisicians Utsha G. Khatri and Brooks Walsh, who speak about why the "excited delirium" label is both unnecessary and dangerous.
Check out our episode of Color Code about "excited delirium" as well as a previous episode of the First Opinion Podcast on the topic. And sign up for the First Opinion newsletter.