Patient emits potentially harmful gas; hazmat called to Ann Arbor hospital | Detroit Free Press |

Absent other information, the referred to ‘rodent poison’ is probably a superwarfarin. It’s like regular people-coumadin, but superconcentrated. It kills rodentia by causing them to bleed to death.

Which makes the ‘gas effect’ seem really odd, but possibly explainable.

A patient who apparently ingested rodent poison and is emitting potentially harmful gasses has created a hazardous material situation at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor.

The man is isolated in his room in the medical intensive care unit on the hospital’s sixth floor, 5301 McAuley at East Huron River Drive, hospital spokeswoman Lauren Jones said this afternoon.

via Patient emits potentially harmful gas; hazmat called to Ann Arbor hospital | Detroit Free Press |

Two thoughts: 1) I sincerely hope this patient recovers, and 2) if this is just upper GI bleed smell someones’ going to have rotten egg smell on their face.

I looked up superwarfarins, found a couple of interesting case reports, but none that talk about abnormal gases.

(For the uninitiated, the smell of digested blood is amazingly awful. It’ll make experienced, hard ED staff retch). I can understand why the smell would set off alarms, except that it’s not that uncommon, so it shouldn’t be a surprise.

It’ll be interesting to see what come of this.

Lighting matches in the hospital is a nono, by the way.


  1. Cristine Hayes says:

    The rodenticide is likely zinc phosphide (commonly found as a mole and gopher bait). In the acidic environment of the stomach, zinc phosphide is converted to phosphine gas. It is often used as a form of suicide in India. There have also been reports of humans being poisoned from animals that have been intoxicated with this rodenticide (a veterinarian suffered toxic effected from a poisoned horse-I can’t seem to find the exact reference at the moment). I am a veterinarian at the Animal Poison Control Center, and we fairly frequently get calls on this rodenticide.

  2. Wow, thanks!

  3. Even so, the volume of the gas created wouldn’t be that substantial, I can’t imagine an open window or a fan wouldn’t be able to immediately render the concentration non-threatening, without bothering the haz-mat guys.

  4. Ann Arbor Resident says:

    Cristine is correct. The patient in question reportedly ingested mole poison. The situation was cleared by Haz-Mat shortly after the local news caught up to the story. No further word on the patient’s condition was reported.

  5. Will Cushman says:

    Googling “Phosphine gas” reveals that this is nasty stuff that can spontaneously explode on contact wit air and is also very toxic. Seems like the Hazmat response was not excessive.