Archives for January 31, 2007

People are creative

…in their efforts to harm themselves.  I’ll never forget the patient we had to admit serially because he had an alcohol problem so the family wouldn’t buy him booze.  They would, however, buy him Listerine, which he’d drink for the alcohol but then vomit for hours, probably from the other ingredients.

Today’s case-in-point: drinking the alcohol based, now ubiquitous hand sanitizers.  From CNN:

In the second case, a 43-year-old man with alcoholism was treated for mysterious chest pains and other symptoms.

“Before those results were obtained, the patient was seen in the bathroom drinking the alcohol-based hand wash from its dispenser,” Dr. Ashkan Emadi and Dr. LeAnn Coberly of the University of Cincinnati wrote.

“When asked why he ingested the hand cleaner, he pointed to the label, which read, ‘Active ingredient 63 percent v/v isopropyl alcohol.’ He explained that this percentage is higher than that in vodka,” they added.


Oh, and this’ll never fly, and for good reason:

It takes only a small amount of isopropanol to kill, by depressing the heart and central nervous system, they wrote.

They suggested that makers of the hand gels change the labeling.

Update: I mean that if they meant to exclude the contents that’d be wrong, but if they want to put “Do Not Drink” on the label that a) won’t keep anyone from intentionally drinking it, and b) would be more for the lawyers than the public.

And, from eMedicine:

Death from ingestion of isopropanol is uncommon. Isopropanol has 2-3 times the potency of ethanol and causes hypotension and CNS and respiratory depression more readily than ethanol. Peak levels occur approximately 30 minutes after ingestion because of rapid GI absorption, which is delayed in the presence of food. Isopropanol is a CNS and cardiac depressant with about twice the potency of ethanol. Serum levels more than 400 mg/dL are potentially fatal.

So, don’t drink the hand sanitizers.

Another EMR growing pain

…what to do with that information you want to keep, but keep in a truly confidential manner.  The Blog That Ate Manhattan discusses it in Notes to Myself.