Out-of-hospital Care of Critical Drug Overdoses Involving Cardiac Arrest

Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
Academic Emergency Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.01). 02/2004; 11(1):71-4. DOI: 10.1197/j.aem.2003.08.014
Source: PubMed


Death from acute drug poisoning, also termed drug overdose, is a substantial public health problem. Little is known regarding the role of emergency medical services (EMS) in critical drug poisonings. This study investigates the involvement and potential mortality benefit of EMS for critical drug poisonings, characterized by cardiovascular collapse requiring cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
The study population was composed of death events caused by acute drug poisoning, defined as poisoning deaths and deaths averted (persons successfully resuscitated from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest by EMS) in King County, Washington, during the year 2000.
Eleven persons were successfully resuscitated and 234 persons died from cardiac arrest caused by acute drug poisoning, for a total of 245 cardiac events. The EMS responded to 79.6% (195/245), attempted resuscitation in 34.7% (85/245), and successfully resuscitated 4.5% (11/245) of all events. Among the 85 persons for whom EMS attempted resuscitation, opioids, cocaine, and alcohol were the predominant drugs involved, although over half involved multiple drug classes. Among the 11 persons successfully resuscitated, return of circulation was achieved in six following EMS cardiopulmonary resuscitation alone, in one following CPR and defibrillation, and in the remaining four after additional advanced life support.
In this community, EMS was involved in the majority of acute drug poisonings characterized by cardiovascular collapse and may potentially lower total mortality by approximately 4.5%. The results show that, in some survivors, return of spontaneous circulation may be achieved with CPR alone, suggesting a different pathophysiology in drug poisoning compared with cardiac arrest due to heart disease.

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    • "Drug overdoses are frequently witnessed by members of drug use networks (Darke and Hall, 2003; Segeev et al., 2003; Tracy et al., 2005), creating the opportunity for those present to mitigate drug overdose mortality by intervening on behalf of overdose victims. For example, because drug overdose is frequently associated with respiratory or cardiac failure (Paredes et al., 2004), calling for emergency medical help may improve survival from drug overdose by facilitating the response of paramedics to overdose events. It has been shown that heroin overdose victims who received emergency medical care while still exhibiting pulse and blood pressure had survival rates greater than 90% (Sporer et al., 1996). "
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    ABSTRACT: Accidental drug overdose is a major cause of mortality among drug users. Fears of police arrest may deter witnesses of drug overdose from calling for medical help and may be a determinant of drug overdose mortality. To our knowledge, no studies have empirically assessed the relation between levels of policing and drug overdose mortality. We hypothesized that levels of police activity, congruent with fears of police arrest, are positively associated with drug overdose mortality. We assembled cross-sectional time-series data for 74 New York City (NYC) police precincts over the period 1990-1999 using data collected from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of NYC, the NYC Police Department, and the US Census Bureau. Misdemeanor arrest rate-reflecting police activity-was our primary independent variable of interest, and overdose rate our primary dependent variable of interest. The mean overdose rate per 100,000 among police precincts in NYC between 1990 and 1999 was 10.8 (standard deviation=10.0). In a Bayesian hierarchical model that included random spatial and temporal effects and a space-time interaction, the misdemeanor arrest rate per 1000 was associated with higher overdose mortality (posterior median=0.003, 95% credible interval=0.001, 0.005) after adjustment for overall drug use in the precinct and demographic characteristics. Levels of police activity in a precinct are associated with accidental drug overdose mortality. Future research should examine aspects of police-community interactions that contribute to higher overdose mortality.
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    • "The high survival rate (76%) reported in our cohort was in accordance with the general survival rate from 58% (15 of 26) in case reports of poisoned patients who benefited from ECLS [3-14,16,17,19]. The 5 of 7 (71%) survival rate we reported among patients with cardiac arrest was in contrast with the dramatically low survival rate of 7% and 4.5%, respectively, reported in overdoses involving cardiac arrest [29,30]. To our knowledge, no studies have reported the survival rate of patients with drug-induced cardiovascular shock apparently refractory to conventional treatment, limiting comparisons with our cohort. "
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    ABSTRACT: Cardiovascular failure is the leading cause of death in severe acute drug intoxication. In this setting, we report the feasibility, complications, and outcome of emergency extracorporeal life support (ECLS) in refractory shock or cardiac arrest following a drug overdose. This is a retrospective cohort study of 17 patients admitted over a 10-year period for prolonged cardiac arrest or refractory shock following a drug overdose and not responding to optimal conventional treatment. Patients were evaluated in the medical ICU and cardiovascular surgery department of a university hospital. ECLS implantation used a centrifugal pump connected to a hollow-fiber membrane oxygenator and was performed in the operating room (n = 13), intensive care unit (n = 3), or emergency department (n = 1). ECLS was employed for refractory shock and prolonged cardiac arrest in 10 and 7 cases, respectively. The mean duration of external cardiac massage was 101 +/- 55 minutes. Fifteen patients had ingested cardiotoxic drugs, including 11 cases of drugs with membrane stabilizing activity. Time from hospital admission to initiation of ECLS was 6.4 +/- 7.0 hours. Time to ECLS implant was 58 +/- 11 minutes. The mean ECLS flow rate was 3.45 +/- 0.45 L/min. The average ECLS duration was 4.5 +/- 2.4 days. Early complications included limb ischemia (n = 6), femoral thrombus (n = 1), cava inferior thrombus (n = 1), and severe bleeding at the site of cannulation (n = 2). Fifteen patients were weaned off ECLS support and 13 (76%) were discharged to hospital without sequelae. Based on our experience, we consider ECLS as a last resort, efficient, and relatively safe therapeutic option in this population. However, the uncontrolled nature of our data requires careful interpretation.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2009 · Critical care (London, England)
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