What is the mortality rate for neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS)?

Updated: Dec 23, 2018
  • Author: Theodore I Benzer, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD, FACEP  more...
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Mortality from neuroleptic malignant syndrome is very difficult to quantify, because the literature on this subject consists largely of case reports and because the diagnostic parameters used have been inconsistent. In some series, mortality rates as high as 76% have been reported. Most series suggest, however, that the mortality rate is 10-20%. When reporting bias is factored in, the true rate of mortality from neuroleptic malignant syndrome might be much lower.

Studies have also found that the mortality rate has been decreasing over the past 2 decades. In a US population–based study of cases from the years 2002-2011, the unadjusted mortality rate was 5.6%. [28]

Mortality is caused by one or more complications (eg, respiratory failure, cardiovascular collapse, renal failure, arrhythmias, thromboembolism, DIC). [29] Renal failure is associated with a 50% mortality rate.

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