Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is one of the major public health poisoning problems dealt with by the NPIS. During the year 2015/16, in partnership with the Gas Safety Trust (GST), the NPIS collected information on 516 enquiries about CO, involving at least 752 individuals.
The NPIS receives clinical information about potential CO exposures from two main sources. Firstly, doctors and other healthcare professionals telephone the NPIS directly for specific advice on patients under their care whom they consider may have been exposed to CO. During 2015/16 there were 300 telephone enquiries made directly to the NPIS regarding suspected or confirmed CO exposures. Secondly, TOXBASE users have the opportunity to provide their contact details when they access the CO entry on TOXBASE. Users will then be asked to complete a questionnaire; if completed and returned, NPIS can obtain patient-specific details. A further 226 enquiries involving individuals potentially exposed to CO resulted from TOXBASE-generated contacts, a 290% increase on the previous year.
Most individuals (537 of 752 or 71.4%) were exposed to CO at home, with 64 (8.5%) exposed in the workplace and five exposed in a public area. The suspected source of CO in the domestic setting was known in 393 (73.2%) enquiries.
A diagnosis of CO poisoning is confirmed by finding a high concentration of carboxyhaemoglobin (COHb) in blood. Data on COHb values were received for 283 (37.6%) of the 752 patients. Doctors and other healthcare workers are encouraged to confirm and report the diagnosis of CO exposure immediately on the patient’s presentation by measuring blood COHb concentrations.
Information from the NPIS Annual Report 2015/16.
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