October 1972

Treatment of Common Acute Poisonings.

Author Affiliations

Washington, DC


By Henry Matthew, MD, FRCP; Alexander AH Lawson, MD, MRCP. Price, $5.75. Pp 160. Williams & Wilkins Co, 428 E Preston St, Baltimore 21202, 1971.

Arch Intern Med. 1972;130(4):655. doi:10.1001/archinte.1972.03650040179030

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In his introduction to the British-neat minibook by Matthew and Lawson, Sir Derrick Dunlop, former Chairman on the Committee on Drug Safety of the United Kingdom, points out that "acute poisoning has now become a common emergency, accounting for nearly 10% of all (acute) medical admissions to many general hospitals."

As new drugs and chemical and botanical mind-rattlers, food additives, and pesticides increasingly penetrate our culture, new kinds of poisoning appear. Lithium, tetrahydrocannabinols, chlorinated hydrocarbons, and phenols are examples. The incidence of poisoning has gone up astronomically since 1950. Poison control centers have risen to combat its intended and unintended ravages. The one at Edinburgh has developed experience for 80 years.

Diagnosis, the very difficult key to proper treatment, is discussed rather briefly. Certain basic principles of proper therapy make the difference, for example, between saving upward of 99% of cases of acute barbiturate poisoning and losing 25% of them.

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