In post-marketing experience, overdose with lorazepam has occurred predominantly in combination with alcohol and/or other drugs.
Symptoms: With benzodiazepines, including lorazepam, symptoms of mild overdosage include drowsiness, mental confusion and lethargy. In more serious overdoses, symptoms may include ataxia, hypotonia, hypotension, hypnosis, Stages I to III coma, and, very rarely, death. Symptoms can range in severity and include, in addition to the above, dysarthria, paradoxical reactions, CNS depression, respiratory depression, and cardiovascular depression.
Treatment: In the case of an oral overdose, if vomiting has not occurred spontaneously and the patient is fully awake, emesis may be induced with syrup of ipecac 20-30 mL (where there is risk of aspiration, induction of emesis is not recommended). Gastric lavage should be instituted as soon as possible and 50-100 g of activated charcoal should be introduced to and left in the stomach.
Lorazepam is poorly dialyzable. Lorazepam glucuronide, the inactive metabolite, may be highly dialyzable.
General supportive therapy should be instituted as indicated. Vital signs and fluid balance should be carefully monitored. An adequate airway should be maintained and assisted respiration used as needed. With normally functioning kidneys, forced diuresis with intravenous fluids and electrolytes may accelerate elimination of benzodiazepines from the body. In addition, osmotic diuretics such as mannitol may be effective as adjunctive measures. In more critical situations, renal dialysis and exchange blood transfusions may be indicated. Published reports indicate that intravenous infusion of 0.5 to 4 mg of physostigmine at the rate of 1 mg/minute may reverse symptoms and signs suggestive of central anticholinergic overdose (confusion, memory disturbance, visual disturbances, hallucinations, delirium); however, hazards associated with the use of physostigmine (i.e., induction of seizures) should be weighed against its possible clinical benefit.
The benzodiazepine antagonist flumazenil may be used in hospitalized patients as an adjunct to, not as a substitute for, proper management of benzodiazepine overdose. The physician should be aware of the risk of a seizure in association with flumazenil treatment, particularly in long-term benzodiazepine users and in cyclic antidepressant overdose.
For management of a suspected drug overdose, contact your regional poison control centre.