July 1986

An Approach to the Management of the Poisoned Patient

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Internal Medicine (Drs Goldberg and Spector), Pharmacology (Drs Goldberg, Spector, and Roberts), and Pediatrics (Dr Roberts), College of Medicine, and the Division of Clinical/Hospital Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy (Dr Park), The University of Iowa, Iowa City, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Iowa City (Dr Goldberg).

Arch Intern Med. 1986;146(7):1381-1385. doi:10.1001/archinte.1986.00360190163023

• Our systematic approach to the evaluation and treatment of the acutely poisoned patient involves establishing an accurate diagnosis and prognosis that often may be based on quantitation of the blood concentration of the toxic substance. The major feature of this approach is the proper selection of treatment(s) for the poisoned patient, ie, decontamination and supportive care and, in some cases, antidotal therapy and/or active removal of the toxic substance. Invasive, expensive methods of active removal (eg, hemodialysis or hemoperfusion) are generally recommended only if specific criteria are satisfied. Noninvasive, inexpensive methods of active removal (eg, manipulation of urinary pH or the oral administration of multiple doses of activated charcoal) may have significant utility in the treatment of poisoned patients not requiring invasive methods. This systematic approach to the poisoned patient should lead to an effective use of treatment modalities with minimal risks and optimal clinical results.

(Arch Intern Med 1986;146:1381-1385)