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October 12, 1984

Hepatic Toxicity From Disinfectant Abuse

JAMA. 1984;252(14):1904. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350140050024

HEPATIC decompensation in abstaining alcoholic patients with cirrhosis is generally due to gastrointestinal tract bleeding, acute infection, hypotensive episode, or electrolyte imbalance. These precipitating factors are easily identified by careful evaluation. We recently cared for a patient with alcoholic cirrhosis who assured us that he was abstaining, but was drinking spray disinfectant (Lysol) containing 79% ethyl alcohol (158 proof). We believe that the alcohol contained in the disinfectant led to his hepatic decompensation.

Report of a Case  A 48-year-old man was admitted to the hospital on Nov 25, 1982, with recent onset of jaundice and ascites. He had a 20-year history of alcohol abuse, with no previous episodes of hepatic decompensation, and was receiving no medications. The patient specifically denied ingestion of beer, wine, or liquor over the three-year period prior to admission. On detailed questioning, however, he admitted that for the past three years, he had ingested the contents of