Prehospital Clinical Decision-Making for Medication Administration for Behavioral Emergencies


  • Lieu Nguyen Lowrie, MS-2
  • Leah Duncan, B.S.
  • Dustie Angela Samuels, D.O.
  • Elizabeth Ablah, Ph.D., MPH
  • Samuel Ofei-Dodoo, Ph.D., MPA, M.A. University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita



Introduction. Prehospital behavioral emergency protocols provide guidance on when a medication may be necessary for prehospital behavioral emergency; however, the final decision of which medication to administer to a patient is made independently by paramedics. The authors evaluated circumstances in a prehospital behavioral emergency when paramedics considered chemical restraints, and factors that go into choosing which medications to administer.

Methods. The authors utilized a qualitative research design involving paramedics from a Midwestern County in the United States, between November 18 and 26, 2019. A total of 149 paramedics were asked to complete a survey consisting of two open-ended questions to measure their clinical decision-making process and factors considered when selecting a medication from a behavioral emergencies protocol. The authors used an immersion-crystallization approach to analyze the content of the interviews.

Results. There was a 53% (n=79) response rate. Six major themes emerged regarding the paramedics’ decision to use medication for behavioral emergencies: safety of the patients and paramedics; inability to use calming techniques; severity of the behavioral emergency; inability to assess the patient due to presentation; etiology of the behavioral episode; and other factors, such as age, size, and weight of the patient. Six major themes emerged regarding factors considered when choosing medication for behavioral emergency: etiology of the behavioral emergency, patient presentation, the patients’ history and age, desired effect and intended outcome of the medication, and other factors.

Conclusions. The findings of the study showed that EMS paramedics rely on several factors, such as safety of all parties involved and etiology of the behavioral emergency in deciding when, and which medication to use in a behavioral emergency. The findings could help EMS administrators to develop protocols that address a variety of behavioral health emergencies.


Metrics Loading ...




How to Cite

Lowrie, L., Duncan, L., Samuels, D. ., Elizabeth Ablah, Ph.D., MPH, & Ofei-Dodoo, S. (2023). Prehospital Clinical Decision-Making for Medication Administration for Behavioral Emergencies . Kansas Journal of Medicine, 16(2), 189–193.



Original Research