Articles

Acute poisonings presenting to King Edward VIII hospital intensive care unit in Durban, South Africa

R Goga, K de Vasconcellos, D Singh

Abstract


Background. Acute poisoning is a potentially preventable burden on the healthcare systems and a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Improved knowledge of the patterns of poisoning, the clinical course and outcomes of these cases may help create better preventive and management approaches. 

Objectives. To describe the demographics, clinical characteristics and outcomes of patients with acute poisonings who were admitted to a multidisciplinary intensive care unit (ICU) at King Edward VIII Hospital, Durban, South Africa. 

Methods. A retrospective observational chart review of patients admitted to the study ICU with acute poisoning over a 24-month period (1 July 2015 - 30 June 2017). 

Results. A total of 85 patients with acute poisoning were admitted to the ICU during the study period. There was a female preponderance (55%) with a median age of 28 years. ICU mortality was 16.5% with a median ICU length of stay of 3 days. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) were the most common toxin identified (16.5%). The ingestion of amphetamines was associated with a statistically significant increase in mortality (100.0% v. 13.4%; p=0.04). Ethylene glycol was a commonly ingested toxin (9.4% of admissions) and had a high mortality rate of 37.5% that was not statistically significant (p=0.121). Referral for inotropic support, a Glasgow Coma Scale ≤5 and metabolic acidosis on admission were associated with higher ICU mortality. 

Conclusion. Acute poisoning results in potentially preventable ICU admission and mortality. TCA poisoning was the most common presentation and this warrants review of TCA prescription practice. Ingestion of illicit drugs, ethylene glycol or presentation with a markedly reduced level of consciousness, shock or metabolic acidosis should alert treating physicians to a possible elevated risk of adverse outcomes. 

 


Authors' affiliations

R Goga, Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

K de Vasconcellos, Department of Critical Care, King Edward VIII Hospital, Durban, South Africa; Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, School of Clinical Medicine, College of Health Sciences, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

D Singh, Department of Critical Care, King Edward VIII Hospital, Durban, South Africa; Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, School of Clinical Medicine, College of Health Sciences, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Cite this article

Southern African Journal of Critical Care 2021;37(1):10-15. DOI:10.7196/SAJCC.2021.v37i1.408

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-03-17
Date published: 2021-03-17

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