Course Summary

Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a rare, idiosyncratic, and potentially fatal condition caused by dopamine receptor antagonists like antipsychotics. Health clinicians need to recognize signs and symptoms and ask the right questions to make an accurate diagnosis and begin treatment. The pathophysiology of NMS is not entirely understood, but its clinical presentation is distinct and dramatic. There is no long-term impact on the patient when caught early. A treatment and management plan must be implemented. Pharmacotherapy has not been consistently effective in all case reports of NMS. In contrast, electroconvulsive therapy may be effective. A key step in the management of neuroleptic malignant syndrome is the initiation of supportive medical therapy.

Course Format


Course Syllabus

  1. Introduction
  2. Epidemiology
    1. Risk Factors
  3. Pathophysiology of NMS
    1. Dopamine Neurotransmission
    2. Serotonin and Catecholamines
  4. NMS: Movement Disorder or Extrapyramidal Symptom?
    1. Clinical Presentation and Complications of NMS
    2. Drug-Induced NMS
  5. Diagnosis of NMS
    1. Atypical NMS
    2. Parkinsonism-Hyperpyrexia Syndrome
    3. Syndromes Mimicking NMS
    4. Drug Use, Onset, and Duration
    5. Clinical Presentation
  6. Treatment of NMS
    1. Drug Therapy
    2. Electroconvulsive Therapy
  7. Case Study: Quetiapine-induced NMS
  8. Summary


Dana Bartlett, RN, BSN, MSN, MA, CSPI

Dana Bartlett is a professional nurse and author. His clinical experience includes 16 years of ICU and ER experience and over 29 years at a poison control center information specialist. Dana has published numerous CE and journal articles, written NCLEX material, written textbook chapters, and done editing and reviewing for publishers such as Elsevier, Lippincott, and Thieme. He has written widely on the subject of toxicology and was a contributing editor of the toxicology section of the Critical Care Nurse journal. He is currently employed at the Connecticut Poison Control Center.

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