Publications by authors named "Alison M Dines"

24 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Clinical effect of ethanol co-use in patients with acute drug toxicity involving the use of central nervous system depressant recreational drugs.

Eur J Emerg Med 2022 Aug 8;29(4):291-300. Epub 2022 Apr 8.

Division of Clinical Toxicology and Poison Control Centre Munich, Department of Internal Medicine II, TUM School of Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Germany.

Background And Importance: Patients who use recreational drugs frequently co-ingest ethanol, which is considered a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. The clinical relevance of this in acute toxicity involving other CNS depressants is not well described.

Objective: To assess the clinical impact of ethanol co-use in patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with acute toxicity involving the use of CNS depressant drugs.

Design, Settings And Participants: A retrospective multicentre study using data from the Euro-DEN Plus database from January 2014 to December 2019.

Outcomes Measure And Analysis: Comparison of epidemiologic and clinical characteristics, ED and hospital management of patients with CNS depressant intoxication with or without ethanol co-use.

Main Results: Although 7644 (17.5%) of the 43 633 presentations were included, ethanol was co-ingested in 3811 (49.9%). In total 53.3% required medical treatment, 14 patients died. Patients with ethanol co-use more frequently presented with a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) ≤8 (34.1% vs. 22.4%; P   <  0.001), vomiting (8.1% vs. 4.6%; P   <  0.001), anxiety (12 % vs. 6.4%; P   <  0.001), agitation/aggression (22% vs. 14.7%; P   <  0.001), seizures (3.8% vs. 2.4%; P   <  0.001) and hypotension (7.5% vs. 4.6%; P   <  0.001). They more often required ambulance transport (85.5% vs. 76.5%; P   <  0.001), medical treatment (57.3% vs. 48.0%; P   <  0.001), hospitalization (27.7% vs. 18.9%; P   <  0.001), and admission to intensive care (12.2% vs. 4.0%; P   <  0.001). Subgroup analysis showed that GCS ≤8 was particularly common in patients who combined ethanol with opioids or gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)/gamma-butyrolactone (GBL).

Conclusion: Co-use of ethanol with CNS-depressant drugs appears to increase the risk of adverse effects and is associated with a higher need for medical treatment, especially when ethanol is combined with opioids or GHB/GBL.
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August 2022

Differences in clinical features associated with cannabis intoxication in presentations to European emergency departments according to patient age and sex.

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2022 Apr 11:1-8. Epub 2022 Apr 11.

Emergency Department, Hospital Clínic, IDIBAPS, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Objective: To investigate if clinical features associated with acute cannabis intoxication in patients presenting to Emergency Departments for medical assistance differ according to patient age and sex.

Methods: We analysed presentations in the Euro-DEN Plus dataset from 2014 to 2019 in which cannabis was the only drug involved (except for alcohol), and age, sex and alcohol co-ingestion had been recorded. Age was considered as categorical (five groups; <20, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49 and ≥50 years), and sex as binary variable (male/female). We evaluated 12 key clinical features recorded during emergency department (ED) care. Risks of presenting with each of these clinical features according to patient age and sex were calculated by logistic regression models, and adjusted for sex, age and alcohol co-ingestion.

Results: 4,268 of 43,633 Euro-DEN presentations (9.8%) fulfilled the inclusion criteria (median age: 26 years (IQR = 20-34), 70% male, 52% co-ingested alcohol). The frequency of clinical features was: anxiety 28%, vomiting 24%, agitation 23%, palpitations 14%, reduced consciousness 13%, acute psychosis 9%, hallucinations 9%, chest pain 7%, headache 6%, hypotension 4%, hypertension 3% and seizures 2%. Patients younger than 20 years more frequently had vomiting (34.7% of cases), reduced consciousness (21.5%), and headache (10.8%); and less frequently acute psychosis (5.5%). Patients older than 49 years more often had hypotension (6.5%) and less frequently vomiting (20%), anxiety (14%), agitation (14%) and reduced consciousness (10%). Males more frequently presented with hypertension (3.7 vs. 1.5%; OR = 2.311, 95%CI = 1.299-3.816), psychosis (10.4 vs 6.3%; 1.948, 1.432-2.430), chest pain (8.1 vs 4.5%; 1.838, 1.390-2.430) and seizures (2.5 vs 1.4%; 1.805, 1.065-3.060), and less frequently with vomiting (21.8 vs 28.2%; 0.793, 0.677-0.930), anxiety (25.4 vs 32.3%; 0.655, 0.561-0.766) and hypotension (2.9 vs 5.8%; 0.485, 0.350-0.671).

Conclusions: The prevalence of some clinical features typically associated with acute cannabis intoxication differed according to age and sex. The causes for these differences should be further investigated in order to better understand the pathophysiology of cannabis-related acute toxicity, and they may be relevant particularly for developing prevention campaigns and for treatment in specific sex and/or age groups.
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April 2022

Isotonitazene, a novel psychoactive substance opioid, detected in two cases following a local surge in opioid overdoses.

QJM 2022 Feb 16. Epub 2022 Feb 16.

Clinical Toxicology.

Background: Isotonitazene is a novel opioid that was first reported in Europe in 2019. There have been no reports of the detection of isotonitazene in patients presenting to the emergency department with acute drug toxicity.

Aim: There was an increase in presentations to our emergency department with acute opioid toxicity in August 2021. We aim to describe this outbreak and provide detail on two cases in which isotonitazene was quantified in serum samples.

Methods: Serum samples were available for comprehensive toxicological analysis for two presentations. Written consent was obtained and the samples were analysed through a Thermo XRS ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography system, interfaced to a Thermo Q Exactive high-resolution accurate mass spectrometer, operating in heated positive ion electrospray mode. Acquired data were processed using Toxfinder software (Thermo) against a regularly updated in-house database.

Results: There was an increase in acute opioid presentations to our emergency department from a median of 10 per month to 36 in August 2021. Twenty were treated with naloxone and 23 admitted to hospital for observation and treatment. Serum sample analysis from two patients with acute opioid toxicity responsive to naloxone detected presence of isotonitazene (0.18 and 0.81 ng/mL).

Conclusion: We report a cluster of acute opioid toxicity presentations to our Emergency Department with detection of isotonitazene in two cases. Analytical screening is important in determining the presence of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) and to help inform the public health of the implications of NPS use, particularly during clusters of acute recreational drug toxicity presentations.
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February 2022

Increasing emergency department attendances in central London with methamphetamine toxicity and associated harms.

Emerg Med J 2022 Jun 14;39(6):463-466. Epub 2021 Oct 14.

Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.

Background: Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug of abuse with increasing prevalence of use worldwide leading to public health concern. While previous research by our group a decade ago found no evidence of increasing harms associated with methamphetamine use in the UK, there are conflicting data on whether or not this is still the case. This paper aims to identify trends in methamphetamine-related harms and characterise the clinical features of ED presentations involving methamphetamine with gamma-hydroxybutyrate/gamma-butyrolactone (GHB/GBL).

Methods: We retrospectively interrogated a database of all toxicology-related presentations to two central London EDs, extracting data on drugs involved for presentations relating to methamphetamine between 2005 and 2018 to enable analysis of trends. Further clinical data were extracted for presentations between 2014 and 2018 to give a 4-year case series.

Results: A total of 1244 presentations involving the use of methamphetamine were identified. The number of presentations rose from 4 in 2005 (1.9% of all recreational drug presentations) to 294 (16.2%) in 2018. A total of 850 cases were identified for the 2014-2018 case series, 94.9% were male with a median (range) age of 35.1 (16-67) years. The most common clinical features in the methamphetamine presentations were neuropsychiatric: agitation (41.5%), anxiety (35.2%), hallucinations (16.5%) and psychosis (14.8%). GHB/GBL was co-used in 54.2% of presentations and appeared to attenuate the neuropsychiatric features seen. Use of GHB/GBL was associated with a higher Poisoning Severity Score and requirement for level 2/3 (high dependency unit/intensive care unit (ICU)) care.

Conclusion: ED attendances in central London relating to methamphetamine use have risen over the last decade. Combining methamphetamine with GHB/GBL is common and is associated with a higher Poisoning Severity Score and need for ICU level care. Further work is required to establish whether further resources need to be directed at this clinical and public health problem.
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June 2022

Paracetamol toxicity in mild overdose in combination with opioids: A retrospective observational study.

Br J Clin Pharmacol 2022 03 12;88(3):1258-1267. Epub 2021 Oct 12.

Department of Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, London, UK.

Aims: Toxicity in paracetamol overdose with opioid co-ingestion is poorly understood. We compared outcomes in both paracetamol-only and paracetamol-opioid overdoses to determine whether toxicity differed significantly between the groups, and to assess the utility of the ratio of measured plasma paracetamol concentration relative to the 4-hour nomogram-adjusted level (APAP /APAP ).

Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study of all patients (n = 1159) presenting to 2 large UK hospitals between 2005 and 2013 with acute single-dose ingestion paracetamol overdose, with (n = 221) or without (n = 938) opioid co-ingestion. Adverse outcomes included biomarkers of hepatotoxicity and the need for extended treatment. Several outcomes were assessed in relation to the APAP /APAP ratio.

Results: Median ingested dose of paracetamol was low in both groups (10 g). Statistical comparison of the median APAP /APAP ratios showed a significant difference (0.65 vs. 0.56 for the paracetamol-only and paracetamol-opioid groups respectively, P = .0329). Although there was a trend towards a lower risk of predefined toxic outcomes with opioid co-ingestion, statistical analysis did not show a significant difference, with outcomes for the paracetamol-only and paracetamol-opioid groups including the following: alanine transaminase >2× upper limit of normal, 7.7 vs. 5.7% (P = .6480); alanine transaminase >1000 IU/L, 2.4 vs. 0% (P = .2145); international normalised ratio > 1.3, 8.6 vs. 4.4% (P = .2774); and transfer to tertiary liver unit, 0.2 vs. 0% (P nonsignificant).

Conclusion: Our study does not support a change in current clinical practise beyond standard testing at 4 hours or longer post ingestion for mixed low dose paracetamol-opioid overdose.
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March 2022

Variation of drugs involved in acute drug toxicity presentations based on age and sex: an epidemiological approach based on European emergency departments.

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2021 Oct 16;59(10):896-904. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

Emergency Department, Hospital Clínic, IDIBAPS, Barcelona, Spain.

Objective: To analyse the relative percentage of acute recreational drug toxicity emergency department (ED) presentations involving the main drug groups according to age and sex and investigate different patterns based on sex and age strata.

Methods: We analysed all patients with acute recreational drug toxicity included by the Euro-DEN Plus dataset (22 EDs in 14 European countries) between October 2013 and December 2016 (39 months). Drugs were grouped as: opioids, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), hallucinogens, new psychoactive substances (NPS), benzodiazepines and ketamine. Descriptive data by age and sex are presented and compared among age/sex categories and among drug families.

Results: Of 17,371 patients were included during the 39-month period, 17,198 (99.0%) had taken at least one of the investigated drugs (median age: 31 years; 23.9% female; ethanol co-ingestion recorded in 41.5%, unknown in 31.2%; multiple drug use in 37.9%). Opioids (in 31.4% of patients) and amphetamines (23.3%) were the most frequently involved and hallucinogens (1.9%) and ketamine (1.7%) the least. Overall, female patients were younger than males, both in the whole cohort (median age 29 vs. 32 years;  < 0.001) and in all drug groups except benzodiazepines (median age 36 vs. 36 years;  = 0.83). The relative proportion of each drug group was different at every age strata and some patterns could be clearly described: cannabis, NPS and hallucinogens were the most common in patients <20 years; amphetamines, ketamine and cocaine in the 20- to 39-year group; GHB/GBL in the 30- to 39-year group; and opioids and benzodiazepines in patients ≥40 years. Ethanol and other drug co-ingestion was more frequent at middle-ages, and multidrug co-ingestion was more common in females than males.

Conclusion: Differences in the drugs involved in acute drug toxicity presentations according to age and sex may be relevant for developing drug-prevention and education programs for some particular subgroups of the population based on the increased risk of adverse events in specific sex and/or age strata.
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October 2021

Rhabdomyolysis related to acute recreational drug toxicity-A Euro-DEN study.

PLoS One 2021 11;16(3):e0246297. Epub 2021 Mar 11.

Department of Clinical Toxicology, Medical University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland.

Background: This study was conducted to retrospectively assess the relationships between: rhabdomyolysis (quantified by creatine kinase (CK) activity) and kidney injury (quantified by serum creatinine concentration), sex, age, body temperature on admission, presence of seizures, and agitation or aggression in patients presenting to the Emergency Department with acute recreational drug toxicity. We also investigated the association with the substances ingested.

Methods: All presentations to the 16 sentinel Euro-DEN centres in 10 European countries with acute recreational drug toxicity during the first year of the Euro-DEN study (October 2013 to September 2014) were considered. Cases that had abnormal CK activity recorded as part of routine clinical care were divided into 3 cohorts depending on peak CK activity. Cases with normal CK activity were included as a control group (4th cohort).

Results: Only 1,015 (18.4%) of the 5,529 Euro-DEN presentations had CK activity concentration recorded. Of this group 353 (34.8%) had also creatinine concentration measured. There were 375 (36.9%) with minor rhabdomyolysis, 69 (6.8%) with moderate rhabdomyolysis, and 24 (2.4%) with severe rhabdomyolysis; 547 (53.9%) were included in the control group. There was a positive correlation between CK activity and creatinine concentration (correlation coefficient r = 0.71, p<0.0001). There was no correlation between CK activity and body temperature at the time of presentation to the ED (correlation coefficient r = 0.07, p = 0.03). There was a positive correlation between CK activity and length of stay in the hospital (r = 0.31, p<0.001). There was no association between CK activity and the presence of seizures (p = 0.33) or agitation/aggression (p = 0.45), patients age (p = 0.4) or sex (p = 0.25). The 5 most common agents amongst patients presenting with rhabdomyolysis were: cocaine (n = 107; 22.9% presentations), amphetamine (76; 16.2%), cannabis (74; 15.8%), GHB/GBL (72; 15.4%) and heroin (67; 14.3%). The distribution of rhabdomyolysis in 5 most common drugs was (drug; patients with rhabdomyolysis, patients without rhabdomyolysis): cocaine (107, 122), cannabis (74, 117), GHB/GBL (72, 81), amphetamine (76, 66), heroin (67, 70).

Conclusions: Abnormal values of CK activity occurred in almost half (46.1%) of presentations to the Emergency Department with acute recreational drug toxicity in whom CK activity was measured; however, severe rhabdomyolysis is seen in only a small minority (2.4%). Those with rhabdomyolysis are at significantly higher risk of kidney injury and have a longer length of hospital stay.
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August 2021

MDMA-related presentations to the emergency departments of the European Drug Emergencies Network plus (Euro-DEN Plus) over the four-year period 2014-2017.

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2021 Feb 17;59(2):131-137. Epub 2020 Jul 17.

Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Institute of Pharmacological Sciences of Southern Switzerland, Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale, Lugano, Switzerland.

Context: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) remains one of the most commonly used recreational drugs in Europe. Monitoring of Emergency Department (ED) presentations with acute toxicity associated with MDMA is important to determine trends in MDMA use and harms.

Methods: Data were extracted from the European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN) Plus database for all ED presentations with acute toxicity involving MDMA use, alone or in combination with other substances, between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2017. Geographical distribution, time trends, patient demographics, clinical features, management and outcome were analysed.

Results: Out of 23,947 presentations, 2013 (8.4%) involved MDMA, used alone (88, 4.4%) or with other substances (1925, 95.6%). The proportion of MDMA presentations varied by country, from over 15% in France to less than 5% in Norway. For the 15 sentinel centres where data were available for all four years, MDMA-related presentations peaked in 2016 (10.4% 8.1% in 2015,  < 0.0001), thereafter decreasing in 2017 (8.2%,  = 0.0002). 1436 (71.3%) presentations involved males. Females were significantly younger than males (median 23 years, interquartile range, IQR, 20-27 years, median 25 years, IQR 21-30 years,  < 0.0001). Compared to presentations of acute toxicity with lone-use cocaine, presentations with lone-use MDMA occurred more frequently during the weekend (58.0% 43.9%,  = 0.02), were more frequently medically discharged directly from the ED (74.7% 62.4%,  = 0.03), and less frequently received sedation (43.5% 66.5%,  = 0.003).

Conclusions: This large multicentre series of MDMA presentations to EDs showed geographical variation and changes in time trends and in patient demographics. Triangulation with data from complementary sources including seizures, prevalence of use and wastewater analysis, will enable a greater understanding of the public health implications of MDMA use in Europe.
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February 2021

Acute toxicity related to misuse (nonmedical use) of tramadol: Experience of the European Drug Emergencies Network Plus.

Br J Clin Pharmacol 2021 04 15;87(4):1668-1675. Epub 2020 Jul 15.

Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, London, UK.

Following the development of the tramadol crisis currently affecting countries in the Middle East, and Africa, there has been increasing international interest in the regulation of tramadol. This study investigates the misuse of tramadol in patients presenting to emergency departments across Europe. Data from 32 emergency departments in 21 countries were extracted from the Euro-DEN Plus database for the 4-year period from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2017. Of the reported 24,957 emergency department presentations, tramadol misuse was reported in 105 (0.4% presentations). Tramadol misuse was most common in Bratislava (Slovakia; n = 11, 7.5% of all presentations to this centre), Riga (Latvia; n = 4, 4.9%) and Munich (Germany; n = 17, 2.9%). On arrival, 14 (13.3%) of presentations were in coma/Glasgow coma score ≤ 8 and 9 of these had a respiratory rate <12 breaths/min. These presentations potentially pose a significant burden on emergency departments with a large proportion requiring admission to hospital for ongoing care.
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April 2021

Clinical relevance of ethanol coingestion in patients with GHB/GBL intoxication.

Toxicol Lett 2019 Oct 10;314:37-42. Epub 2019 Jul 10.

Emergency Department, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona, IDIBAPS, Barcelona, Spain; Medical School, University of Barcelona, Spain.

Objective: Ethanol intake can increase the sedative effects of gamma-hydroxybutyrate/gamma-butyrolactone (GHB/GBL), although the real clinical impact is unknown. We studied the clinical impact of the co-ingestion of ethanol in patients presenting to the Emergency Department (ED) with acute toxicity related to GHB/GBL use.

Method: We performed a secondary analysis of the Euro-DEN Plus Registry (14 countries, 22 EDs) which includes 17,371 consecutive patients presenting to the ED with acute recreational drug toxicity over 39 consecutive months (October 2013 - December 2016). We compared the epidemiological and clinical characteristics and ED management of patients identified as presenting with acute toxicity related to lone GHB/GBL (Group A) or GHB/GBL combined with ethanol (Group B) without other concomitant drugs.

Results: A total of 609 patients were included (age 32 (8) years; 116 women (19%); Group A: 183 patients and Group B: 426). The most common features were reduction in consciousness (defined as Glasgow Coma Score <13 points: 56.1%) and agitation/aggressiveness (33.6%). Those with ethanol co-ingestion were younger patients (Group A/B: 31.5/33.1 years, p = 0.029) and ethanol co-ingestion was associated with a lower frequency of bradycardia (23.5%/15.7%, p = 0.027) and more frequent arrival at the ED by ambulance (68.3/86.6%; p < 0.001), reduction in consciousness (58.9%/49.1%; p = 0.031), need for treatment in the ED (49.2%/60.4%; p = 0.011), use of sedatives (20.1%/12.8%; p = 0.034), admission to critical care units (22.4%/55.3%; p < 0.001), and longer hospital stay (stay longer than 6 h: 16.9%/28.4%; p = 0.003).

Conclusions: Co-ingestion of ethanol increases the adverse effects of patients intoxicated by GHB/GBL, leading to greater depression of consciousness, need for treatment, admission to the ICU and longer hospital stay.
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October 2019

Cold water extraction of codeine/paracetamol combination products: a case series and literature review.

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2020 02 13;58(2):107-111. Epub 2019 May 13.

Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.

Tampering with opioid containing medications for use other than their prescribed indication is well documented; however, the published literature has concentrated on stronger, prescription opioids. Less potent opioids, such as codeine, are available without prescription in many European countries in the form of combination analgesic products and these can also be altered, with reports in particular of "cold-water extraction" being a tampering method achievable using household kitchen equipment. We searched a database of patients attending two South London emergency departments for cases of self-reported ingestion of the products of cold-water extraction, with subsequent review of their case notes. We searched the scientific and grey literature to identify current knowledge of this technique. We identified seven presentations in six patients, none of whom developed paracetamol toxicity or had concentrations suggesting ingestion of a significant dose of paracetamol. A review of the scientific literature on the method also demonstrated that the technique reduces recovered paracetamol in experimental laboratory settings. Additionally, the established literature characterizes the use of codeine in a recreational setting and reports one fatality associated with the method. Review of grey literature user-forums further describes recreational codeine use in relation to the method and frequent adverse events including hospital admission for paracetamol toxicity. Whilst the method appears capable of providing a recreational dose of codeine with reduction in the recovered paracetamol, it cannot be considered safe. Pharmaceutical production methods have been successfully developed to prevent tampering through other means but none thus far have been directed at the cold water extraction technique. Clinicians should be aware of the potential toxicity from tampered nonprescription analgesics. There is also the need for public health education regarding the potential risks associated with these methods.
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February 2020

Epidemiology, clinical features and management of patients presenting to European emergency departments with acute cocaine toxicity: comparison between powder cocaine and crack cocaine cases.

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2019 Aug 30;57(8):718-726. Epub 2019 Jan 30.

Emergency Department , Hospital Clínic, Barcelona; IDIBAPS , Barcelona , Spain.

: To analyse the epidemiology, clinical picture and emergency department (ED) management of a large series of patients who presented to European EDs after cocaine consumption, comparing data from powder (C group) and crack (C group) consumers. : Between October 2013 and December 2016, the Euro-DEN Plus Registry recorded 17,371 consecutive acute recreational drug toxicity presentations to 22 EDs in 14 European countries. Epidemiological and demographic data, co-ingestion of alcohol and other drugs, clinical features, ED management and outcome (death) were analysed for cocaine cases, and comparison of clinical picture in C and C patients were performed adjusting for alcohol and other drug co-ingestion. : We included 3002 cases (C: 2600; C: 376; mixed consumption: 26): mean age 32(9) years, 23% female. The proportion of presentations involving cocaine varied significantly between countries (>30% in Malta, Spain, France, Denmark) and only centres in France, United Kingdom, Poland, Ireland and Malta recorded crack-related cases. Cocaine was frequently used with ethanol (74.3%, C>C) and other drugs (56.8%, C>C), the most frequent amphetamine (19.4%, C>C) and opioids (18.9%, C>C). C patients were more likely to have clinically significant episodes of hypotension (adjusted OR = 2.35; 95%CI = 1.42-3.89), and bradypnea (1.81; 1.03-3.16) and systolic blood pressure >180 mmHg on ED arrival (2.59; 1.28-5.25); while less likely anxiety (0.51; 0.38-0.70), chest pain (0.47; 0.31-0.70), palpitations (0.57; 0.38-0.84), vomiting (0.54; 0.32-0.90), and tachycardia on ED arrival (0.52; 0.39-0.67). Sedative drugs were given in 29.3%. The median length of hospital stay was 4:02 h, 22.1% patients were hospitalized, and 0.4% ( = 12) died. : Cocaine is commonly involved in European ED presentations with acute recreational drug toxicity, but there is variation across Europe not just in the involvement of cocaine but in the proportion related to powder versus crack. Some differences in clinical picture and ED management exist between powder cocaine and crack consumers.
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August 2019

Emergencies related to recreational drug abuse in Spain compared to emergencies attended in 3 European areas.

Emergencias 2018 Dic;30(6):385-394

Área de Urgencias, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona; Grupo de Investigación "Urgencias: Procesos y Patologías", IDIBAPS, Barcelona, España.

Objectives: To analyze epidemiologic, clinical, and care characteristics in cases in which patients came to 2 Spanish emergency departments (EDs) with symptoms caused by recreational drug abuse. To compare the characteristics with those reported for other areas of Europe.

Material And Methods: Secondary analysis of the registry of the European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN Plus), which collects cases in 14 European countries and 20 EDs. The registry included all patients attending EDs with symptoms of recreational drug abuse (excepting cases involving alcohol alone) over a period of 39 consecutive months (October 2013 to December 2016). We compared the cases from the 2 Spanish EDs (in Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca) to those from the 5 EDs in Ireland and the UK, 6 in northern Europe, and 7 in central Europe.

Results: A total of 17 104 patients' cases were included: Spain, 1186; UK and Ireland, 6653; northern Europe, 6097; and central Europe, 3168. Spain saw more emergencies related to cocaine (48.4%) and fewer related to opioids (12.4%) than the other areas. The Spanish patients were younger (32.2 years) on average than those in northern Europe and older than those in the UK and Ireland and central Europe. Fewer patients were women in Spain (21.9%) than in northern or central Europe. Fewer arrived in ambulances in Spain (70.0%) than in the UK and Ireland or northern Europe. The Spanish EDs recorded the temperature and respiratory frequency of fewer patients (29.8% and 30.3%, respectively). Clinical signs differed between geographical areas attributable to differences in drug-use patterns. In Spain, naloxone was used by fewer patients (9.6%) than in the UK and Ireland and northern Europe, and flumazenil was used by more patients (5.6%) than in other areas. Spain saw lower percentages of admissions (4.6%) and patients who left without an ED discharge (6.2%) in comparison with other areas. Mortality rates in the Spanish EDs (0.4%) and after discharge from them (0.7%) were higher than in northern Europe.

Conclusion: The characteristics of emergencies related to recreational drug abuse registered by the Spanish EDs were differed from those registered in other parts of Europe due to different patterns of drug use. We also detected differences between the Spanish and other European EDs with respect to examinations or tests performed, treatment given, and discharge disposition.
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July 2019

Change in the new psychoactive substances associated with Emergency Department acute toxicity presentations associated with the introduction of the UK 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act.

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2019 01 1;57(1):36-41. Epub 2018 Aug 1.

a Department of Clinical Toxicology , Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust , London , UK.

Objectives: In May 2016, the Psychoactive Substances Act (PSA) came into effect in UK making it an offence to produce or supply new psychoactive substances (NPS). The aim of this study was to determine whether this was associated with a change in Emergency Department (ED) presentations with acute NPS toxicity.

Method: ED presentations to our inner-city hospital in London, UK, with acute NPS toxicity in the 12 months before and after the PSA introduction [June 2015-May 2016 (2015/2016) and June 2016-May 2017 (2016/2017)] were obtained from our database. The following data were extracted: (i) demographics; (ii) NPS(s) self-reported [categorized as synthetic cannabinoids (SC), cathinones, and "other NPS")]; and (iii) month of presentation.

Results: There were 1884 presentations with recreational drug toxicity, 447 (23.7%) involved NPS. There was no difference in the overall proportion of presentations involving an NPS in 2015/2016 [n = 196 (22.3%)] and 2016/2017 [251 (24.9%); (p = .48)]. There were a mean ± SD of 16.3 ± 3.7 NPS-related presentations per month in 2015/2016 and 20.9 ± 9.2 in 2016/2017; there was no significant change in overall monthly NPS-related presentations between these periods (p = .15). However, mean ± SD monthly SC-related presentations increased from 2015/2016 (5.9 ± 2.5) to 2016/2017 (17 ± 9.8); p = .004. Mean monthly cathinone-related presentations decreased from 2015/2016 (8.8 ± 4.2) to 2016/2017 (3.8 ± 2.7); p = .001. There was no significant change in monthly mean "other NPS" presentations from 2015/2016 (1.8 ± 2.2) to 2016/2017 (0.5 ± 0.8); p = .062. Between 2015/2016 and 2016/2017, SCs as a proportion of NPS-related presentations increased (r = .90) whilst cathinones decreased (r = -0.82).

Conclusion: NPS present front-line health services with unique challenges, and the PSA 2016 represents a major legislative effort in UK to limit their availability and supply. The burden of NPS use on this inner-city  ED remains large 12 months after this legislation has come into force, with evolving patterns of NPS use.
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January 2019

Acute recreational drug toxicity: Comparison of self-reports and results of immunoassay and additional analytical methods in a multicenter European case series.

Medicine (Baltimore) 2018 02;97(5):e9784

Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Basel University Hospital and University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Department of General Internal Medicine, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, University of Bern, Bern Clinical Toxicology Unit, Emergency Department, Hospital Universitari Son Espases, Research Institute of Health Sciences (IdISBa), Palma de Mallorca, Spain Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners Clinical Toxicology, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King's College London, London, UK The Norwegian CBRNe Centre of Medicine, Department of Acute Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway Department of Clinical Toxicology, Klinikum Rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany.

The aim of the study was to compare self-reported and analytically confirmed substance use in cases of acute recreational drug toxicity.We performed a retrospective analysis of emergency department presentations of acute recreational drug toxicity over 2 years (October 2013 to September 2015) within the European Drug Emergencies Network Plus project.Among the 10,956 cases of acute recreational drug toxicity during the study period, 831 could be included. Between the self-reported substance use and the toxicological results, the highest agreement was found for heroin (86.1%) and cocaine (74.1%), whereas inhalants, poppers, and magic mushrooms were self-reported but not analytically detected. Cathinones and other new psychoactive substances (NPS) could be detected using additional analytical methods. Among cases with both immunoassay (IA) and confirmation with mass spectrometry (MS), the results were consistent for methadone (100%) and cocaine (95.5%) and less consistent for amphetamines (81.8%). In cases with a positive IA for amphetamines (n = 54), MS confirmed the presence of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), amphetamine, methamphetamine, and NPS in 37, 20, 10, and 6 cases, respectively, also revealing use of more than 1 substance in some cases. MS yielded positive results in 21 cases with a negative IA for amphetamines, including amphetamine, MDMA, methamphetamine, and NPS, in 14, 7, 2, and 2 cases, respectively.In conclusion, the highest agreement was found between self-reports and analytical findings for heroin and cocaine. The diagnosis of NPS use was mainly based on self-report. The IAs accurately identified methadone and cocaine, and MS had advantages for the detection of NPS and amphetamine derivatives.
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February 2018

Intoxication by gamma hydroxybutyrate and related analogues: Clinical characteristics and comparison between pure intoxication and that combined with other substances of abuse.

Toxicol Lett 2017 Aug 1;277:84-91. Epub 2017 Jun 1.

Department of Clinical Toxicology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich, Germany.

Objective: To study the profile of European gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and gammabutyrolactone (GBL) intoxication and analyse the differences in the clinical manifestations produced by intoxication by GHB/GBL alone and in combination with other substances of abuse.

Method: We prospectively collected data on all the patients attended in the Emergency Departments (ED) of the centres participating in the Euro-DEN network over 12 months (October 2013 to September 2014) with a primary presenting complaint of drug intoxication (excluding ethanol alone) and registered the epidemiological and clinical data and outcomes.

Results: We included 710 cases (83% males, mean age 31 years), representing 12.6% of the total cases attended for drug intoxication. Of these, 73.5% arrived at the ED by ambulance, predominantly during weekend, and 71.7% consumed GHB/GBL in combination with other substances of abuse, the most frequent additional agents being ethanol (50%), amphetamine derivatives (36%), cocaine (12%) and cannabis (8%). Among 15 clinical features pre-defined in the project database, the 3 most frequently identified were altered behaviour (39%), reduced consciousness (34%) and anxiety (14%). The severity ranged from mild cases requiring no treatment (308 cases, 43.4%) to severe cases requiring admission to intensive care (103 cases, 14.6%) and mechanical ventilation (49 cases, 6.9%). No deaths were reported. In comparison with only GHB/GBL consumption, patients consuming GHB/GBL with co-intoxicants presented more vomiting (15% vs. 3%, p<0.001) and cardiovascular symptoms (5.3% vs. 1.5%, p<0.05), a greater need for treatment (59.8% vs. 48.3%, p<0.01) and a longer ED stay (11.3% vs. 3.6% patients with ED stay >12h, p<0.01).

Conclusions: The profile of the typical GHB/GBL-intoxicated European is a young male, requiring care for altered behaviour and reduced level of consciousness, mainly during the weekend. The clinical features are more severe when GHB is consumed in combination with other substances of abuse.
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August 2017

Outcomes from massive paracetamol overdose: a retrospective observational study.

Br J Clin Pharmacol 2017 06 25;83(6):1263-1272. Epub 2017 Jan 25.

Austin Toxicology Service and Victorian Poisons Information Centre, Austin Hospital, Victoria, Australia.

Linked Article: This article is commented on by Bateman DN and Dear JW. Should we treat very large paracetamol overdose differently? Br J Clin Pharmacol 2017; 83: 1163-5. AIMS: Treatment of paracetamol (acetaminophen) overdose with acetylcysteine is standardized, with dose determined only by patient weight. The validity of this approach for massive overdoses has been questioned. We systematically compared outcomes in massive and non-massive overdoses, to guide whether alternative treatment strategies should be considered, and whether the ratio between measured timed paracetamol concentrations (APAP ) and treatment nomogram thresholds at those time points (APAP ) provides a useful assessment tool.

Methods: This is a retrospective observational study of all patients (n = 545) between 2005 and 2013 admitted to a tertiary care toxicology service with acute non-staggered paracetamol overdose. Massive overdoses were defined as extrapolated 4-h plasma paracetamol concentrations >250 mg l , or reported ingestions ≥30 g. Outcomes (liver injury, coagulopathy and kidney injury) were assessed in relation to reported dose and APAP :APAP ratio (based on a treatment line through 100 mg l at 4 h), and time to acetylcysteine.

Results: Ingestions of ≥30 g paracetamol correlated with higher peak serum aminotransferase (r = 0.212, P < 0.0001) and creatinine (r = 0.138, P = 0.002) concentrations. Acute liver injury, hepatotoxicity and coagulopathy were more frequent with APAP :APAP  ≥ 3 with odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of 9.19 (5.04-16.68), 35.95 (8.80-158.1) and 8.34 (4.43-15.84), respectively (P < 0.0001). Heightened risk persisted in patients receiving acetylcysteine within 8 h of overdose.

Conclusion: Patients presenting following massive paracetamol overdose are at higher risk of organ injury, even when acetylcysteine is administered early. Enhanced therapeutic strategies should be considered in those who have an APAP :APAP  ≥ 3. Novel biomarkers of incipient liver injury and abbreviated acetylcysteine regimens require validation in this patient cohort.
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June 2017

Psychosis associated with acute recreational drug toxicity: a European case series.

BMC Psychiatry 2016 08 18;16:293. Epub 2016 Aug 18.

Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, London, UK.

Background: Psychosis can be associated with acute recreational drug and novel psychoactive substance (NPS) toxicity. However, there is limited data available on how common this is and which drugs are most frequently implicated. We describe a European case series of psychosis associated with acute recreational drug toxicity, and estimate the frequency of psychosis for different recreational drugs.

Methods: The European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN) collects data on presentations to Emergency Departments (EDs) with acute recreational drug and NPS toxicity at 16 centres in ten countries. Euro-DEN data from October 2013 through September 2014 was retrospectively searched, and cases with psychosis were included. The proportion of cases with psychosis per drug was calculated in the searched Euro-DEN dataset.

Results: Psychosis was present in 348 (6.3 %) of 5529 cases. The median (interquartile range) age was 29 (24-38) years, 276 (79.3 %) were male and 114 (32.8 %) were admitted to psychiatric ward. The drugs most commonly reported were cannabis in 90 (25.9 %) cases, amphetamine in 87 (25.0 %) and cocaine in 56 (16.1 %). More than one drug was taken in 189 (54.3 %) cases. Psychosis was frequent in those ED presentations involving tryptamines (4/7; 57.1 %), methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) (6/22; 27.3 %), methylphenidate (6/26; 23.1 %), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) (18/86; 20.9 %), psilocybe mushrooms (3/16; 18.8 %), synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (4/26; 15.4 %) and amphetamine (87/593; 14.7 %), but less common in those involving mephedrone (14/245; 5.7 %), methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) (20/461; 4.3 %) and methedrone (3/92; 3.3 %). Amphetamine was the most frequent drug associated with psychosis when only one agent was reported, with psychosis occurring in 32.4 % of these presentations.

Conclusion: The frequency of psychosis in acute recreational drug toxicity varies considerably between drugs, but is a major problem in amphetamine poisoning. In rapidly changing drug markets and patterns of use, the Euro-DEN sentinel network contributes to measuring the scale of drug-related harms in Europe beyond other more established indicators.
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August 2016

Acute recreational drug and new psychoactive substance toxicity in Europe: 12 months data collection from the European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN).

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2015 Nov;53(9):893-900

a Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners , London , UK.

Context: Despite the potential for recreational drugs and new psychoactive substances (NPSs) to cause significant morbidity and mortality, there is limited collection of systematic data on acute drug/NPS toxicity in Europe.

Objective: To report data on acute drug/NPS toxicity collected by a network of sentinel centres across Europe with a specialist clinical and research interest in the acute toxicity of recreational drugs and NPS to address this knowledge gap.

Methods: Sixteen sentinel centres in 10 European countries (Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK) collected data on all acute drug toxicity presentations to their Emergency Rooms (ERs) for 12 months (October 2013-September 2014); information on the drug(s) involved in the presentations was on the basis of patient self-reporting.

Results: Data were collected on a total of 5529 presentations involving 8709 drugs (median (interquartile range [IQR]): 1 (1-2) drugs per presentation), a median of 0.3% of all ER attendances. Classical recreational drugs were most common (64.6%) followed by prescription drugs (26.5%) and NPS (5.6%). The 'top five' drugs recorded were heroin (1345 reports), cocaine (957), cannabis (904), GHB/GBL (711) and amphetamine (593). 69.5% of individuals went to hospital by ambulance (peak time between 19:00 and 02:00 at weekends); the median (IQR) age was 31 (24-39) years and 75.4% were male. Although serious clinical features were not seen in most presentations and 56.9% were medically discharged from the ER (median length of stay: 4.6 hours), a significant number (26.5%) was agitated, in 10.5% the GCS was 8 or less and 35 presented in cardiac arrest. There were 27 fatalities with opioids implicated in 13.

Conclusion: The Euro-DEN dataset provides a unique insight into the drugs involved in and clinical pattern of toxicity/outcome of acute recreational drug toxicity presentations to hospitals around Europe. This is complimentary to other indicators of drug-related harm and helps to build a fuller picture of the public health implications of drug use in Europe.
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November 2015

Presentations to the Emergency Department Following Cannabis use--a Multi-Centre Case Series from Ten European Countries.

J Med Toxicol 2015 Dec;11(4):415-21

Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7EH, London, UK.

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in Europe, and is generally regarded as having low acute toxicity. We present the findings of the first 6 months of data collection from the Euro-DEN project on presentations related to cannabis use to further understand the acute toxicity related to the use of cannabis. Data was extracted on clinical features, treatment and outcome from the Euro-DEN minimum dataset for all cases of acute recreational drug toxicity reported 1st October 2013 to 31st March 2014 for all cannabis-related presentations. Of 2198 presentations reported by 14 of the 16 Euro-DEN centres, 356 (16.2 %) involved cannabis either alone or together with other drugs/alcohol. There were 36 that involved lone use of cannabis (1.6 % of all presentations). Of the 35 non-fatal lone cannabis presentations, the most commonly reported features were neuro-behavioural (agitation/aggression 8 (22.9 %), psychosis 7 (20.0 %), anxiety 7 (20.0 %)) and vomiting 6 (17.1 %). Most patients (25, 71.4 %) received no treatment and 30 (85.7 %) were discharged/self-discharged from the ED. There was one fatality amongst these lone-cannabis cases: an 18-year-old male collapsed with an asystolic cardiac arrest whilst smoking cannabis and suffered hypoxic brain injury related to prolonged cardiac arrest. THC was detected in a urine sample taken at ED arrival; no other drugs were detected. Lone acute cannabis toxicity was typically associated with neuro-behavioural symptoms and vomiting. Although uncommon, severe toxicity including cardiovascular toxicity and death may be under-recognised, and it is important that Emergency Physicians are aware of this.
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December 2015

Current European data collection on emergency department presentations with acute recreational drug toxicity: gaps and national variations.

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2014 Dec 31;52(10):1005-12. Epub 2014 Oct 31.

Medical Division, Department of Acute Medicine, Norwegian National Unit for CBRNe Medicine, Oslo University Hospital , Oslo , Norway.

Background: The number of new (novel) psychoactive substances (NPS) available in the illegal market is increasing; however, current monitoring of the drug situation in Europe focuses mainly on classical drugs of abuse, with limited emphasis on clinical presentation in the emergency department (ED). The European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN) is a European Commission-funded project that aims to improve the knowledge of acute drug toxicity of both classical recreational drugs and NPS. As a baseline for this project, we performed a study to establish which data are currently being collected and reported in Europe on ED presentations with acute toxicity related to NPS and classical drugs of abuse.

Methods: We used a three-pronged approach to identify any systematic collection of data on NPS toxicity in Europe by i) performing a literature search, ii) utilising an online survey of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction Re seau Europe en d'Information sur les Drogues et les Toxicomanies national focal points and iii) exploiting the knowledge and resources of the Euro-DEN network members.

Results: The literature search revealed 21 papers appropriate for assessment, but only one described a systematic collection of clinical data on NPS. Twenty-seven of thirty countries responded to the online survey. More than half of all the countries (52%) did not perform any registration at all of such data, 37% collected systematic clinical data on NPS at a national level, while 44% collected data on classical drugs. A few examples for good practice of systematic collection of clinical data on ED presentations due to acute toxicity were identified.

Conclusion: The systematic collection of data on ED presentation of toxicity related to NPS and classical drugs in Europe is scarce; the existing collection is limited to single centres, single countries, groups of patients or not focused on novel drugs; the collection of data is highly variable between the different countries. Euro-DEN, a European Commission funded project, aims at closing some of these gaps.
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December 2014