Many poisoned patients may only require a period of observation after their exposure. There are limited data describing the use of observation units for managing poisoned adult and pediatric patients. We performed a retrospective review of all patients reported to the ToxIC Case Registry between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2013. Eligible patients included those who received a bedside consultation by a medical toxicologist and whose care was provided in an observation unit, or those who were admitted under the care of a medical toxicologist in an observation unit. A total of 15,562 poisonings were reported to the registry during the study period, of which 340 (2.2 %) involved patients who were cared for in an observation unit. Of these patients, 22.1 % were 18 years of age or younger, and the remaining 77.9 % were greater than 18 years of age. The most common reason for exposure was the intentional ingestion of a pharmaceutical agent in both adult (30.2 %) and pediatric patients (36.0 %). Alcohols (ethanol) (24.9 %), opioids (20.0 %), and sedative-hypnotics (17.7 %) were the most common agent classes involved in adult patient exposures. The most common agent classes involved in pediatric exposures were antidepressants (12.0 %), anticonvulsants (10.7 %), and envenomations (10.7 %). In adult patients, the most common signs and symptoms involved the nervous system (52.0 %), a toxidrome (17.0 %), or a major vital sign abnormality (14.7 %). In pediatric patients, the most common signs and symptoms involved the nervous system (53.3 %), a toxidrome (21.3 %), or a major vital sign abnormality (17.3 %). The results of this study demonstrate that a wide variety of poisoned patients have been cared for in an observation unit in consultation with a board-certified medical toxicologist. Patterns for the reasons for exposure, agents responsible for the exposure, and toxicological treatments will continue to evolve. Further study is needed to identify better those poisoned patients who can be appropriately managed in an observation unit.
- Medical toxicology
- Observation units
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis