Background: Organophosphates (OP) are frequently used as insecticides in the household and in agricultural areas, thus posing a risk for accidental exposure.
Objectives: To describe the characteristics, clinical course and outcome of 97 patients admitted to emergency rooms with a diagnosis of acute OP poisoning.
Methods: The clinical details of 97 patients were collected from 6 different hospitals in Israel. Diagnosis of intoxication was based on clinical findings, butyrylcholinesterase levels and, in several cases, the material brought to the hospital. Demographic, intoxication and clinical data were analyzed.
Results: The study group comprised 64 men and 33 women whose age range was 1–70 years old (mean 19.8 ± 17.1); more than one-third of the patients were less than 10 years old. Accidental exposure was the cause of intoxication in 51.5% of the patients, and suicide in 20.6% of exposures. Intoxication occurred at home in most patients (67%), and the route of intoxication was oral in 65% of them. The patients arrived at the hospital 20 minutes to 72 hours after intoxication. Nine patients were asymptomatic; 53 presented with mild intoxication, 22 with moderate, and 13 had severe intoxication, 5 of whom died. There was a direct correlation between the degree of inhibition of butyrylcholinesterase levels and the severity of intoxication. Treatment included decontamination and antidotal medication. Duration of hospitalization ranged between 1 and to 14 days (average 2.9 days).
Conclusions: Organophosphates may cause severe morbidity and mortality. Medical staff should therefore be aware of the clinical manifestations and the antidotal treatment for this poisoning.