Clinical Assessment

Table 1: Clinical features of ‘excited delerium’

Clinical features Frequency
Violent behaviour 66.0%
Tolerance to pain 20.8%
Constant or near constant physical activity 24.7%
Subject not responding to police presence 21.7%
Superhuman strength 10.8%
Rapid breathing 9.7%
Does not tire despite heavy physical exertion 8.8%
Naked or inappropriately clothed for the environment 7.4%
Sweating profusely 4.9%
Hot to the touch 3.5%
Attraction to or destruction of glass or reflective surfaces 2.8%

In 2012 Hall et al attempted to describe the frequency of signs of ‘excited delirium’ in subjects undergoing use of force by a Canadian police department.16 The authors listed eleven signs suggestive of excited delirium which were then prospectively assessed by police officers and their frequencies are presented in Table 1.

This group noted that even though use of force is rare, approximately 15% of individuals undergoing use of force have three or more concomitant signs of ‘excited delirium’.