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Christopher J. M. Green

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date: 24 September 2021

Acute agitation is a common issue encountered among patients admitted to inpatient wards, and it has a broad differential diagnosis. When confronted with an agitated inpatient, it is important to consider the underlying etiology before administering any sedatives so that patients receive appropriate management. This case illustrates a possible cause of agitation, alcohol withdrawal, which is potentially life-threatening if not recognized. Discussion focuses on the signs and symptoms that allow alcohol withdrawal to be distinguished from other causes of inpatient agitation, as well as key aspects of management including administration of benzodiazepines and thiamine, and avoidance of medications that lower seizure threshold (e.g., antipsychotics).

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