Drug and poison information. The Tygerberg experience
CITATION: Muller, G. J., Hoffman, B. A. & Lamprecht, J. H. 1993. Drug and poison information. The Tygerberg experience. South African Medical Journal, 83:395-398.
The original publication is available at http://www.samj.org.za
This report is based on an analysis of 6411 consultations processed by the Tygerberg Pharmacology and Toxicology Consultation Centre. Seventy-five per cent of the consultations were of a toxicological nature: 47% related to non-drug chemicals, 37% to drugs and 16% to plants and animals. Pesticides utilised in the home environment featured most prominently in the non-drug chemical group, while queries about paracetamol overdose topped the list in the drug group. The most frequent queries in the biological category concerned potentially poisonous plants. Twenty-five per cent of the consultations related to pharmacotherapeutics. Most potentially toxic exposures to non-drug chemicals occurred in the household setting. Contrary to popular belief, few acute pesticide poisonings were encountered as a result of exposures during farming activities. Another important finding was that there is a frustrating lack of reliable and readily available information in respect of potentially toxic ingredients contained in household and industrial preparations. The large number of household exposures highlights the need for education in the safe storage and usage of non-drug chemicals. Legislation on the inclusion of basic toxicological information and warnings on labels of household and industrial non-drug chemical products should be considered. In addition, the Government should take responsibility for centralising information on all potentially toxic non-drug chemicals and make this information available to poison centres at all times. It is also imperative that more attention be given to the training of health care professionals in applied pharmacokinetics and toxicology.