Poisoning is a common reason for presentation at emergency departments. Prompt evaluation and appropriate management are imperative to ensure the best outcome for the patient and pharmacists are well-placed to provide vital information in these scenarios.

Any chemical may be a poison, at a given dose and route of administration. This can include medicines, resulting in an iatrogenic cause of poisoning.

Poisoning may occur from exposure to illicit drugs, chemicals, medicines, gases (e.g. carbon monoxide) or hazardous substances in the environment. Exposures can be accidental, intentional or recreational. They can also occur through occupational exposure such as in agriculture (e.g. pesticides) or industry (e.g. lead, zinc) and laboratories. Some patients can be poisoned surreptitiously, such as in drug-facilitated sexual assault or homicide. Use of a new category of agents known as Performance and Image Enhancing drugs (PIEDs) which includes anabolic steroids, hormones, peptides and other agents can also result in toxicity either due to the inherent nature of the agent or because they are used in excess.

Accreditation number for this module: S2019/113

This module has been accredited for 1 hour of Group-1 CPD (or 1 CPD credit) or 1 hour of Group-2 CPD (or 2 CPD credits) upon successful completion of the module's Test yourself multiple choice questions, suitable for inclusion in an individual pharmacist’s CPD plan.