[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to design an information leaflet for patients with paracetamol overdose based on Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency guidance and to assess its readability. A two-sided one page information leaflet was designed for patients being discharged from hospital after a paracetamol overdose. Patients presenting with an acute paracetamol overdose, irrespective of whether they were treated or not, were recruited to read the leaflet and then answer a brief structured questionnaire based on the leaflet. The readability of the information leaflet was assessed using the Flesch reading ease score. Thirty patients (15 male, 12 female, 3 not recorded; mean age 38 ± 13.0 years) were recruited, wherein 100% of patients reported the language used was understandable, 96.6% knew which symptoms would require urgent medical review after discharge and 100% of patients knew the liver was affected by paracetamol. The Flesch reading ease score was 67.6 (out of a maximum of 100), equivalent to a UK reading age of 10–11years old. Our information leaflet for all patients being discharged after paracetamol overdose was well received by patients, provided them with the required knowledge and had an appropriate reading age based on UK literacy rates. We would recommend that this leaflet could be used as a template on a national level, localized to individual hospitals, to improve patient knowledge of paracetamol toxicity, and facilitate early medical review in the event of deterioration following discharge from the hospital.
Pharmacology Research & Perspectives. 12/2014; 2(6).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Acute recreational drug toxicity is a common cause of emergency department (ED) presentations. There is limited published information on the perception, knowledge and experiences of these patients with regards to seeking medical care. Methods: Thirty-one participants with acute recreational drug toxicity completed a two-page questionnaire survey to gather information on previous health services used in relation to drug use, knowledge of sources of information on drugs, how their admission may influence their future use of drugs and their experience with their current hospital stay. Results: This was the first presentation to hospital with acute recreational drug toxicity in 20 (62.5% of respondents) participants. For 19 (59.4%), this admission would lead to stopping or reducing the use of recreational drugs/noel psychoactive substances (NPS). Seventeen (53.1%) of them utilised the Internet as a source of information on recreational drugs. Mean satisfaction score in relation to current attendance of 84.8 (range 46–100) and 29 (91%) would return to this hospital for treatment for future recreational drug problems. Conclusion: Contact with healthcare staff in an emergency setting may be the only access to healthcare services; it is important that this opportunity is utilised to inform individuals about the harms associated with using recreational drugs/NPS and sources of help/advice if required.
Journal of Substance Use 11/2014; · 0.48 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background. The number of new (novel) psychoactive substances (NPS) available in the illegal market is increasing; however, current monitoring of the drug situation in Europe focuses mainly on classical drugs of abuse, with limited emphasis on clinical presentation in the emergency department (ED). The European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN) is a European Commission-funded project that aims to improve the knowledge of acute drug toxicity of both classical recreational drugs and NPS. As a baseline for this project, we performed a study to establish which data are currently being collected and reported in Europe on ED presentations with acute toxicity related to NPS and classical drugs of abuse. Methods. We used a three-pronged approach to identify any systematic collection of data on NPS toxicity in Europe by i) performing a literature search, ii) utilising an online survey of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction Re seau Europe en d'Information sur les Drogues et les Toxicomanies national focal points and iii) exploiting the knowledge and resources of the Euro-DEN network members. Results. The literature search revealed 21 papers appropriate for assessment, but only one described a systematic collection of clinical data on NPS. Twenty-seven of thirty countries responded to the online survey. More than half of all the countries (52%) did not perform any registration at all of such data, 37% collected systematic clinical data on NPS at a national level, while 44% collected data on classical drugs. A few examples for good practice of systematic collection of clinical data on ED presentations due to acute toxicity were identified. Conclusion. The systematic collection of data on ED presentation of toxicity related to NPS and classical drugs in Europe is scarce; the existing collection is limited to single centres, single countries, groups of patients or not focused on novel drugs; the collection of data is highly variable between the different countries. Euro-DEN, a European Commission funded project, aims at closing some of these gaps.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 4,4'-Dimethylaminorex is a stimulant novel psychoactive substance (NPS) first detected in Europe in November 2012. It is a derivative of 4-methylaminorex, a substance controlled under Schedule 1 of the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances. There is currently no information on the availability or cost of these substances from Internet suppliers. An Internet snapshot study was undertaken in English using established European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) methodology to determine the availability of 4-methylaminorex and 4,4'-dimethylaminorex in April 2014. Twenty Internet sites selling 4-methylaminorex were identified, 18 selling in US dollars and two in GB Pound Sterling. Fourteen (70 %) Internet sites had a minimum purchase amount of ≥10 g (compared to user doses of 10-25 mg). For the 18 suppliers selling in US$, 9 quoted a fixed price per gram irrespective of the amount ordered and 11 had a reducing price per gram with increasing purchase quantity (US$30.8 ± 34.2/g for 1 g purchase to US$15.2 ± 20.3/g for 1 kg purchase). Only one Internet site selling 4,4'-dimethylaminorex was identified, selling in Euros. The minimum purchase quantity was 500 mg. The price per gram reduced from 36.08/g for a 500 mg purchase to 2.20/g for a 100 g purchase. This Internet snapshot demonstrated that there was a greater availability from Internet suppliers of products advertised as 4-methylaminorex than 4,4'-dimethylaminorex, despite the 4-methylaminorex being an internationally controlled substance. Whilst this may reflect misunderstanding by suppliers, it has the potential to put those purchasing at risk of contravening border control and/or local law enforcement legislation. The use of methodology such as Internet snapshot surveys is of increasing interest to clinical/medical toxicologists in their understanding of the supply, availability and cost of novel psychoactive substances.
Journal of medical toxicology: official journal of the American College of Medical Toxicology 08/2014;
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over the last decade, there has been a reduction of organ donation from intracranial haemorrhage-, stroke- and blunt trauma-related deaths in the USA. There has been a corresponding increase in the use of drug-intoxicated patients as organ donors from 2.1 % in 2003 to 6.8 % in 2013.
Journal of medical toxicology: official journal of the American College of Medical Toxicology 07/2014;
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Methiopropamine use in Europe has been detected since January 2011, but there is limited information on its acute toxicity. Here, we describe a case of analytically confirmed methiopropamine acute toxicity.
A 27-year-old woman with no previous medical history was brought to the emergency department with palpitations, chest tightness, anxiety, nausea, vomiting and visual hallucinations following the use of a 'Quicksilver'. Toxicological analysis of her urine collected at presentation to the ED detected methiopropamine at a concentration of 400 ng/mL. Other drugs were also detected but at a much lower concentration.
This is the first ever case report of analytically confirmed acute toxicity related to methiopropamine use. It confirms the potential for significant acute toxicity with cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and psychotic symptoms thus providing further information to help with managing these patients and allow legislative authorities to consider the need for its control.
Journal of medical toxicology: official journal of the American College of Medical Toxicology 04/2014;
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In September 2012 the UK's Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) recommended changes in management of paracetamol poisoning: use of a single '100mg/L' nomogram treatment line; ceasing risk assessment; treating all staggered/uncertain ingestions; increasing the duration of the initial acetylcysteine (NAC) infusion from 15 to 60min. We evaluated the effect of this on presentation, admission, treatment, adverse reactions, and costs of paracetamol poisoning.
Prospectively collected data from adult patients presenting to 3 large UK hospitals from 3 Sept 2011 to 3 Sept 2013 (year before and after change). Infusion duration effect on vomiting and anaphylactoid reactions was examined in one centre. A cost analysis from an NHS perspective was performed for 90,000 patients/annum with paracetamol overdose.
There were increases in the numbers:- presenting to hospital (before 1703, after 1854; increase 8.9%[95%CI 1.9-16.2] p=0.011); admitted (1060/1703 [62.2%] vs 1285/1854 [69.3%]; increase: 7.1% [4.0-10.2], p<0.001); and proportion treated (626/1703 [36.8%] vs 926/1854 [50.0%]; increase: 13.2% [10.0-16.4] p<0.001). Increasing initial NAC infusion did not change the proportion of treated patients developing adverse reactions (15min 87/323[26.9%], 60min 145/514[28.2%]; increase: 1.3%[-4.9-7.5] p=0.682). Across the UK the estimated cost impact is £8.3M (6.4M to 10.2M) annually, with a cost-per-life saved of £17.4 M (95% CI 13.4 to 21.5 M).
The changes introduced by the CHM in September 2012 have increased the numbers of patients admitted to hospital and treated with acetylcysteine without reducing adverse reactions. A safety and cost-benefit review of the CHM guidance is warranted, including novel treatment protocols and biomarkers in assessment of poisoning.
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 03/2014; · 3.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Self-poisoning (overdose) is the commonest form of self-harm cases presenting to acute secondary care services in the UK, where there has been limited investigation of self-harm in black and minority ethnic communities. London has the UK's most ethnically diverse areas but presents challenges in resident-based data collection due to the large number of hospitals.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ethylene glycol poisoning, while uncommon, is clinically significant due to the associated risk of severe morbidity or lethality and it continues to occur in many countries around the world. The clinical presentation of ethylene glycol toxicity, while classically described in three phases, varies widely and when combined with the range of differential diagnoses that must be considered makes diagnosis challenging. Early and accurate detection is important in these patients, however, as there is a need to start antidotal treatment early to prevent serious harm. In this article, we will review the literature and provide guidance regarding the diagnosis of ethylene glycol poisoning. While gas chromatography is the gold standard, the usefulness of this test is hampered by delays in access due to availability. Consequently, there are several surrogate markers that can give an indication of ethylene glycol exposure but these must be interpreted with caution and within the clinical context. An in-depth review of these tests, particularly the detection of a raised osmolar gap or an raised anion gap acidosis, will form the main focus of this article.
Annals of Clinical Biochemistry 11/2013; · 1.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
In 2011/12, 8.9% of the UK population reported use of recreational drugs. Problems related to drug use is a major financial burden to society and a common reason for attendance to hospital.AimThe aim of this study was to establish current trends in recreational drug use amongst individuals attending gay-friendly nightclubs in South London.Method
Contents of drug amnesty bins located at two night clubs were documented and categorised into powders, herbal products, liquids, tablets and capsules. These were then sent to a Home Office licensed laboratory for identification through a pre-existing database of almost 25,000 substances. If required, further qualitative analysis was performed.ResultsA total of 544 samples were obtained. 240 (44.1%) were liquids, 220 (40.4%) powders, 42 (7.7%) herbal and 41 (7.5%) tablets or capsules. Gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) was the most common liquid drug (66.7%, n=160) followed by poppers (30.0%, n=72). Powders provided the widest range of drugs with mephedrone being the most common (n=105, 47.7%) followed by ketamine (n=28, 12.7%), 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) (n=26, 11.8%), and cocaine (n=21, 9.5%). Tablets and capsules included medicinal drugs, recreational drugs and plaster of Paris tablets that mimicked the appearance of 'ecstasy' tablets.Conclusions
This study has provided a snapshot of the pattern of drug use in the gay community which compliments findings of the self-reported surveys and other studies from the same population. The information obtained will be helpful in guiding in designing harm reduction interventions in this community and for monitoring the impact of changes in legislation.
QJM: monthly journal of the Association of Physicians 09/2013; · 2.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) to N-acetylcysteine (NAC) treatment for paracetamol overdose are typically anaphylactoid in origin and occur in 2-48% of treated patients. We explored the incidence and management of NAC ADR in our unit.
Case notes of patients who presented with paracetamol overdose and had ADR to NAC between February 2005 and June 2011 were reviewed. A total of 1648 patients presented with suspected paracetamol overdose and 660 received NAC treatment. Within this group, 82 patients had documented NAC-related ADR.
ADR developed in 12.4% (82/660) of patients receiving intravenous NAC and 59 had full documentation available and were included in this study (34 women, 25 men). ADR occurred in the 15-min (150 mg/kg) bag in 36 cases (61%), 22 in the 4-h (50 mg/kg) bag (37%) and one in the 16-h (100 mg/kg) bag (2%). Symptoms were classified as minimal (n=16, 27%), moderate (n=26, 44%) and severe (n=17, 29%). Asthma and female sex, which are reported risk factors for ADR, did not lead to the development of more severe ADR (P=0.771 and 0.330, respectively). Treatments administered included stopping the NAC infusion (n=32, 54%), administration of antiemetics (n=36, 61%), H1 antihistamines (n=26, 44%), steroids (n=16, 27%), inhaled B2 agonists (n=6, 10%) and adrenaline (n=3, 5%).
The incidence of ADR to NAC was comparable with published studies, although there was no association of severity with asthma or female sex. The management of ADRs is variable, with frequent, inappropriate use of steroids. Education about the pathophysiology of these ADRs may improve management.
European Journal of Emergency Medicine 08/2013; · 0.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION: There is evidence from around Europe of the availability and use of 6-(2-aminopropyl)benzofuran (6-APB) as a recreational drug. However, there is currently limited information on the acute toxicity of this compound. We describe here a case of acute toxicity associated with recreational use of legal high (6-APB) and cannabis, in which the comprehensive toxicological analysis confirmed the presence of a significant amount of 6-APB together with metabolites of both tetrahydrocannabinol and the synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist (JWH-122). CASE REPORT: A 21-year-old gentleman with no previous medical and psychiatric history was brought to the emergency department (ED) after he had developed agitation and paranoid behaviour following the use of 6-APB purchased over the Internet. There was no obvious medical cause for his acute psychosis. He required diazepam to control his agitation and was subsequently transferred to a psychiatric hospital for ongoing management of his psychosis. Toxicological screening of a urine sample collected after presentation to the ED detected 6-APB, with an estimated urinary concentration of 2,000 ng/ml; other drugs were also detected, but at lower concentrations including metabolites of the synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist JWH-122 and tetrahydrocannabinol. CONCLUSION: This is the first case of analytically confirmed acute toxicity associated with the detection of 6-APB which will provide some information on acute toxicity of this drug to help clinicians with the management of such patients and legislative authorities in their consideration for the need of its control.
Journal of medical toxicology: official journal of the American College of Medical Toxicology 06/2013;
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background/Aims: To assess whether novel psychoactive substances (NPS) displace established club drugs, supplement them or act as drugs of initiation via a study of the relationship between mephedrone, ecstasy pills, cocaine and MDMA powder amongst club-goers considered to be 'early adopters' of psychostimulant/club drug trends. Methods: In situ surveys were conducted with 308 customers in two south London gay dance clubs across 3 weekend nights in July 2010 to assess the prevalence and patterns of self-reported use of a range of illegal drugs and NPS. Results: Mephedrone was added to existing drug repertoires amongst those surveyed and acted to supplement more established club drugs including ecstasy pills, cocaine and MDMA powder, rather than replacing or displacing those drugs. Conclusion: This survey suggests that NPS are likely to be added to drug repertoires, particularly amongst experienced users with consequent health risks for individuals and resource implications for services. This study points to a complex relationship between NPS and illegal drug availability, purity and regulatory control, one which is increasingly important to understand given the global emergence of NPS and the challenges they present to existing supply, demand and harm reduction strategies.
European Addiction Research 04/2013; 19(5):276-282. · 2.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The United States (US) is considered the center of prescription drug abuse. Since drug abuse is a worldwide phenomenon, it would be valuable to determine if the trend of increasing prescription opioid misuse and abuse seen in the US is developing in the United Kingdom (UK). To compare trends in deaths associated with prescription opioid drugs, mortality data was obtained online for England, Wales, and Scotland from the Office for National Statistics and the General Register Office and for the US from The National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). Mortality trends in the US show a relentless increase of deaths from unintentional drug poisoning with opioid analgesics in the last decade. In 2010, the number of deaths related to opioid analgesics was over 16,500, more than double the number of 2002 and more than twice the number of deaths from heroin and cocaine deaths combined . Although the number of deaths related to drug poisoning reviewed from England and Wales is not as high as the US, the overall trends are remarkably similar (Figure 1). The prominent role of methadone in UK opioid deaths also is striking. In Scotland, methadone-related deaths increased from 71 in 2001 to 275 in 2011  and they currently represent over half of all reported opioid deaths. However, this should be viewed in the context of a considerable increase in the availability of opioid substitution treatment in the UK . In the US, most cases relate to opioid analgesics, and the number of oxycodone deaths slightly exceeds the number of methadone deaths. Tramadol presents interesting data in the UK: in 1996, England and Wales reported one death with the drug mentioned, but by 2011 there were 154 deaths . In Scotland, tramadol-related deaths increased from 8 in 2001 to 34 deaths in 2011 . The increase in tramadol-related deaths may reflect a rise in tramadol prescriptions, therefore availability, but also points to the need to monitor closely any increase in deaths caused by opioid analgesics as it may signal an emerging problem in the UK similar to the issue that is now well-established in the US.
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 04/2013; · 3.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT Objective. The objective of this study was to describe the psychiatric symptoms, management and outcomes in a consecutive series of patients being managed medically for symptoms of withdrawal from gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and its analogue gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) in a general hospital setting. Methods. A toxicology database was used to identify patients presenting with history suggestive of withdrawal from GHB and analogues. Electronic and paper medical records were searched for demographic features, neuropsychiatric symptoms, psychiatric management while in hospital and overall outcome. Results. There were 31 presentations with withdrawal from the drugs involving 20 patients. Of these 17 (54%) were referred to and seen by the liaison psychiatry team. Anxiety (61.3%) and agitation (48.4%) were the most common symptoms. Of the 17 cases seen by the liaison psychiatry team 52.9% required close constant observation by a mental health nurse and 29.4% required to be detained in hospital under mental health legislation. Conclusions. The significant proportion of patients presenting with neuropsychiatric symptoms and requiring intensive input from the liaison psychiatry team during withdrawal from GHB and its analogues points to the importance of close liaison between medical and psychiatric teams in managing these patients in the general hospital.
International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice 03/2013; · 1.31 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: AIMS: On 3 September 2012, the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) notified healthcare professionals of immediate changes to the intravenous acetylcysteine license terms, altering the treatment pathway for paracetamol poisoning. We sought to evaluate awareness of this amongst healthcare professionals. METHODS: We surveyed doctors, nurses and pharmacists in the 1-12 week period following the implementation date. RESULTS: 44 individuals completed the survey in paper form (response rate 86%) and 220 in electronic form (response rate unknown). The resulting sample of 264 individuals was drawn from 41 institutions, and included 143 doctors, 58 pharmacists, and 50 nurses. 157 (59%) were aware of the changes, and 133 (50%) had adopted them in practice. Awareness differed between healthcare professions (P=0.001) and specialties (P=0.002). For respondents aware of the changes, the main sources of information were alerts issued internally (reported by 57%); from the MHRA (25%); and other professional bodies (24%). The proportion of individuals that reported receiving practical implementation instructions (e.g. a protocol) was higher among respondents who had changed their practice than for those who had not (86% versus 25%, respectively; P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Less than two-thirds of healthcare professionals in specialties managing patients with paracetamol poisoning were aware of important changes to its treatment pathway in the 12 weeks after they took effect, and only half had adopted them in practice. Alternative communication strategies should be explored to improve dissemination of similar information from the MHRA and other medicines regulators in the future.
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 03/2013; · 3.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Context. Ingestion of toxic liquids is common, and the volume ingested is often important for clinical decision-making. However, the accuracy and interpretation of volume estimates in the context of toxicological exposures is poorly characterised in adult practice. Objective. To inform the interpretation of volume estimates when expressed in forms commonly encountered in toxicological practice: (1) semi-quantitative volume descriptors, such as 'mouthfuls'; (2) quantitative self-estimates of ingestion volume, for example, millilitres; and (3) estimates of residual volume in containers. Methods. In the first part of the study, 50 members of the public ingested water in response to requests to take a 'small mouthful', 'large gulp' and 'five mouthfuls'. They estimated the amount ingested, and actual volumes were measured. In part 2, 15 members of the public and 15 healthcare professionals estimated the volumes contained in 12 opaque and transparent bottles. Results. The mean age of participants in part 1 was 37 years, and in part 2 it was 34 years. The mean volume (95% prediction interval) of a 'small mouthful' was 43 (3-137) mL; 'large gulp', 77 (20-168) mL; and 'five mouthfuls', 157 (25-375) mL. The mean error (95% limits of agreement) for self-estimates of ingestion volume was an underestimate of - 52% (- 90% to + 124%). Volume contained in bottles was underestimated by - 5% (- 38% to + 27%). This varied according to the container type (mean difference: opaque, - 10%; transparent, - 1%; P < 0.01) and participant type (members of the public, - 8%; healthcare professionals, - 3%; P = 0.02). Conclusions. Volume estimates derived from semi-quantitative descriptors are not a reliable basis for clinical decision-making. Self-estimates provided in a quantitative form are inaccurate and prone to underestimation. Estimates of residual volume in containers should be regarded as suspect if the container is opaque. Where clinical decisions hinge on the volume ingested, efforts should be made to quantify this using measurement.