• Emergency department;
  • neuroleptic malignant syndrome;
  • psychiatric nursing;
  • recognition

PURPOSE.  A case study is presented to discuss the importance of accurate assessment of a patient in the emergency department (ED) who develops neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS).

CONCLUSIONS.  There has been a significant increase in the number of patients with psychiatric emergencies seeking treatment in the ED. The most frequently used medication for treating these patients is a high-potency typical antipsychotic (neuroleptic). Although NMS is a rare condition, it is a potentially fatal complication of neuroleptic medications.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS.  Early identification of this potentially life-threatening syndrome will lead to prompt treatment and improve the care of this vulnerable population.