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April 29, 1961

Acute Barbiturate Intoxication: The Importance of Suspecting Barbiturate Intoxication in Patientsin Coma of Unknown Etiology, and in Those with Overt Evidence of a Suicidal Attempt by Other Means, Is Emphasized by the Rising Mortality

Author Affiliations

Denver; New York City

From the Medical Service, Roosevelt Hospital.

JAMA. 1961;176(4):268-272. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040170014004

Data from more than 400 cases of acute barbiturate intoxication were examined for evidence of the possible effectiveness of analeptic drugs (such as caffeine, amphetamine, or picrotoxin) in treating this condition. The final comparison was limited to patients admitted in a conditon of coma with laboratory evidence of barbiturates in urine, blood serum, or gastric washings. Of the 141 patients who satisfied these criteria, 77 received analeptics and 64 were treated supportively without analeptics. There were four deaths in the former group and two in the latter. There was no significant difference between the two groups as to the duration of coma or the number of ensuing complications.