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November 1, 1941


Author Affiliations

San Francisco Lieutenant (j. g.), Medical Corps, United States Navy
From the Obstetrical Service, Mount Zion Hospital.

JAMA. 1941;117(18):1534-1535. doi:10.1001/jama.1941.72820440002010a

Death from paraldehyde poisoning is rare. Kotz1 reviewed the literature up to 1938 and reported a case of his own in which death ensued following the use of 31 cc. of paraldehyde rectally in a patient with a toxemia of pregnancy.

Since it was introduced about sixty years ago by Cervello2 and Strahan,3 paraldehyde has been used extensively as a hypnotic and sedative in a variety of medical conditions and, more recently, has been found to be a useful adjunct in the field of obstetric analgesia.

According to the standard works on pharmacology and toxicology, paraldehyde is considered a safe hypnotic and sedative. Sollmann4 states that its actions are similar to alcohol but that its hypnotic effects are more rapid and efficient. "Its acute toxicity is low, so that 100 Gm. produced only very prolonged sleep." He adds that "therapeutic doses do not tend to depress