Author(s): Hanssens Y, Deleu D, Taqi A
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Abstract BACKGROUND: The health care system in Oman is characterized by its rapid development and free medical services for all its nationals although traditional medicine still plays a major role in daily life. Epidemiological data on poisoning are scanty. OBJECTIVE: To determine the annual rate of poisoning-related Accident & Emergency Department visits at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital in Oman and to evaluate, in both children and adults, the etiologic and demographic characteristics of poisoning cases. The poisoning pattern is contrasted to that of other countries. METHODS: A prospective observational study included all symptomatic and asymptomatic poisoning-related Accident & Emergency Department visits over 4 years (1996-1999). Data were recorded on a specifically designed poison reporting form. RESULTS: Two hundred and four poisoning-related Accident & Emergency Department visits were recorded corresponding to an average annual rate of 1.8/1000 Accident & Emergency Department visits. Therapeutic agents were most commonly involved (50\% of all cases). Accidental poisoning in toddlers was most commonly caused by drugs. Intentional poisoning in adults involved mainly therapeutic agents (50\%), particularly analgesics, followed by industrial and environmental agents (25\%). Animal poisoning (14\%) was most commonly encountered in adult males. Traditional remedies constituted 7\% of all poisoning cases. A total of 148 patients (73\%) were admitted for 1 to 175 days. CONCLUSIONS: Compared to studies performed in urban hospitals in other countries, (1) the annual rate of poisoning-related Accident & Emergency Department visits was substantially lower, (2) psychoactive drugs were less frequently incriminated in intentional ingestions, and (3) we found a significantly higher frequency of poisoning by animals and traditional remedies than reported by urban hospitals in other Middle Eastern countries. The limitations of our study (Accident & Emergency Department-based data collection in an urban hospital) do not permit extrapolation to the rest of the country.
This article was published in J Toxicol Clin Toxicol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Toxicology