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November 22, 1995

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Among Recreational Boaters

Author Affiliations

From the Hyperbaric Department, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Wash (Mr Silvers and Dr Hampson); the University of Rochester (NY) School of Medicine and Dentistry (Mr Silvers); and the Department of Medicine, Virginia Mason Clinic, Seattle, Wash (Dr Hampson).

JAMA. 1995;274(20):1614-1616. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530200050036

Objective.  —To describe the case characteristics of a series of patients poisoned with carbon monoxide (CO) while boating for recreation.

Design.  —Cases of patients referred for treatment of CO poisoning with hyperbaric oxygen were reviewed. Those cases that occurred during recreational boating were selected for analysis.

Setting.  —A private, urban, tertiary care center studied from July 1984 to June 1994.

Patients.  —Thirty-nine patients ranging in age from 6 months to 69 years who were poisoned in 27 separate incidents.

Main Outcome Measures.  —Characteristics of the poisoning incidents were assessed at initial patient presentation, immediately following treatment, and with follow-up telephone interviews.

Results.  —Of 512 patients treated for acute unintentional CO poisoning, 39 cases (8%) occurred in 27 incidents related to recreational boating activities. Individuals typically lost consciousness as a result of the poisoning. Most cases occurred aboard a boat that was older than 10 years, had an enclosable cabin, was longer than 22 feet, was powered by a gasoline engine, and was without a CO detector on board.

Conclusions.  —Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious hazard associated with recreational boating. The installation of CO detectors aboard boat types typically associated with this syndrome should be strongly encouraged.(JAMA. 1995;274:1614-1616)