Pattern of acute poisonings in Mashhad, Iran 1993-2000
Drugs and chemicals are almost easily available in Iran. Natural toxins as poisonous plants and animals also exist in most parts of the country. Therefore, acute poisonings, either intentional or accidental and also drug abuse/addiction are common in Iran. In spite of these difficulties there is no center for poison control and surveillance in this country to gather information and analyse data. The files of a systematic randomised ten percent of all hospital-referred poisoned patients from 21 March 1993 to 20 March 2000 in Imam Reza (p) University Hospital of Mashhad (71589 cases) were screened retrospectively. Young adults (40.3%) and school children (22.9%) were the most vulnerable group. Mean age was 22.3 (S.D. 14.38) years with a minimum of less than one and a maximum of 98 years old. A female predominance was found (53.4%). Intentional poisoning was more common (54.4%) than accidental exposures (45.2%). Fourteen cases were classified as criminal poisoning. 79.7% of exposures were via ingestion, followed by dermal exposures (14.1%), and inhalation (6.2%). The majority (83.7%) of patients were from urban areas. Most patients (68.6%) were treated in the Emergency Toxicology Clinic and discharged, 19.2% were temporarily hospitalized and 11.3% were hospitalized for 24 hr. Main groups of poisons were pharmaceuticals (61.4%), chemicals (22.8%), and natural toxins (16.6%). The overall number of poisoned patients was higher in spring and summer (62.8%). In conclusion, acute poisonings, particularly self-poisonings, are common in Iran. Since medical documentation is not routinely provided in this country the results of this retrospective study can be used for surveillance. Establishment of fluent data gathering and analysis within the local health system are challenges for the future.