A narrative review of secondary hazards in hospitals from cases of chemical self-poisoning and chemical exposure

James Stewart-Evans*, Andrew Sharman, James Isaac

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Secondary hazards are an important consideration when dealing with both self-poisoned and chemically contaminated patients. Secondary exposure of hospital staff following the admission of a poisoned patient is relatively rare but potentially serious. Risks usually arise from chemical conversion of a deliberately ingested toxic substance and subsequent offgassing, but there may be toxic substances on the victim or their clothing. Surface contamination is a more common concern in cases where patients have been exposed to chemical releases. This paper presents a narrative review that considers some of the more commonly encountered toxic chemicals and situations that may present secondary hazards in hospitals. Risks to staff can be lowered by reducing the potential for, and duration of, exposure wherever possible. Good communication with the first responders at the scene, consultation with experts, decontamination and use of personal protective equipment, together with regular training, can minimize risks in the hospital environment.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)304-309
    Number of pages6
    JournalEuropean Journal of Emergency Medicine
    Volume20
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

    Keywords

    • Chemical hazard release
    • Emergency care
    • Environment and public health
    • Environmental exposure
    • Poisoning
    • Secondary exposure
    • Secondary hazard

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