COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

[Cases of acute poisoning admitted to a medical intensive care unit]

A Viertel, E Weidmann, H R Brodt
Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift 2001 October 19, 126 (42): 1159-63
11607854

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Because of the paucity of information on the epidemiology of acute poisoning requiring intensive medical care, all such patients treated on the medical intensive care unit of the university hospital in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, between January 1993 and December 1999, were retrospectively evaluated.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Of the total of 6211 patients, 147 (80 women, 67 men, mean age 41 years, 2,3 %) were treated for acute intoxication in the intensive care unit.

RESULTS: Reasons for admission to the intensive care unit were the need for ventilator treatment or intensive monitoring of vital functions. 52 % of the patients (n = 76) had attempted suicide, most of them using anti-depressive drugs (n = 19), paracetamol (n = 16), or benzodiazepines (n = 9). Two patients (2,6 %) died. 48 % of the patients (n = 71) were admitted because of accidental poisoning. Leading toxic agents in this group were heroin (n = 19), alcohol (n = 18) and digitalis (n = 12). 11 patients had taken herbicides, animal poisons or chemicals used at work or for house cleaning. In this cohort, three i. v. drug abusers (4,2 %) had died. Depending on the agents used, a variety of treatments (charcoal, antidots, extracorporal therapy) were undertaken.

CONCLUSION: Due to excellent care in the prehospital phase and in the emergency room the number of patients requiring treatment on the intensive care unit was rather low. The mortality was in the range of other reports.

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