Poisoning is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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Emergency Central

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  • Poisoning may be intentional or unintentional.
  • Patients with change in mental status without clear cause should have poisoning (intoxication, overdose) considered in differential diagnosis.


  • Intentional:
    • Depression
    • Suicide
    • Homicide
    • Recreational drug abuse
  • Unintentional (accidental):
    • Common cause in children
    • Therapeutic error (e.g., double dose)
    • Recreational drug experimentation

Pediatric Considerations
  • Accidental ingestions—typically young children (1–5 yr)
  • Consider child abuse if inconsistent or suspicious history.

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