Gut decontamination and poisoning
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Gut decontamination and poisoning

Joanna Tempowski Deputy Manager, London Centre of National Poisons Information Service (NPIS)

When a patient attends hospital after ingestion of a toxin one of the first considerations is whether anything can be done to prevent or reduce absorption. Joanna Tempowski discusses the benefits of gastric decontamination in managing overdose

Gastric decontamination has been a cornerstone in the management of overdose for decades. Usually this has entailed attempting to empty the stomach, either by inducing vomiting or gastric lavage. More recently, the emphasis has shifted towards the use of activated charcoal as an adsorbent. Less commonly used techniques include repeated doses of activated charcoal or whole bowel irrigation to decontaminate the entire gastrointestinal tract.

Emergency Nurse. 8, 6, 22-28. doi: 10.7748/en2000.

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