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Exploratory study of factors associated with adverse clinical features in patients presenting with non-fatal drug overdose/self-poisoning to the ambulance service


Aim To investigate the factors associated with adverse clinical features presented by drug overdose/self-poisoning patients and the treatments provided.

Methods Historical patient records collected over 3 months from ambulance crews attending non-fatal overdoses/self-poisoning incidents were reviewed. Logistic regression was used to investigate predictors of adverse clinical features (reduced consciousness, obstructed airway, hypotension or bradycardia, hypoglycaemia) and treatment.

Results Of 22 728 calls attended to over 3 months, 585 (rate 26/1000 calls) were classified as overdose or self-poisoning. In the 585 patients identified, paracetamol-containing drugs were most commonly involved (31.5%). At least one adverse clinical feature occurred in 103 (17.7%) patients, with higher odds in men and opiate overdose or illegal drugs. Older patients and patients with reduced consciousness were more likely to receive oxygen. The latter also had a greater chance of receiving saline.

Conclusion Non-fatal overdose/self-poisoning accounted for 2.6% of patients attended by an ambulance. Gender, illegal drugs or opiates were important predictors of adverse clinical features. The treatments most often provided to patients were oxygen and saline.

  • Overdose
  • poisoning
  • prehospital
  • paramedic
  • therapies
  • self-harm
  • drug overdose
  • self-poisoning
  • treatment
  • ambulance services
  • prehospital care
  • cross sectional study
  • mental health
  • nursing

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