Commonly Prescribed Drug Overdoses

First Things First (assess & treat for the following)

  • Begin w/ the ABCs, especially if pt is obtunded.
    • Intubate pt for airway protection if pt lacks an adequate gag reflex.
    • Conversely, a pt who fights intubation w/ enough vigor to require anesthetic induction drugs for intubation may not need this additional airway protection!
  • Many of these drugs can cause cardiac conduction abnormalities & arrhythmias; make sure pt has a stable perfusing rhythm during the initial evaluation.
  • Don’t exclusively trust the pt history or even “empty” pill bottles for planning therapy. Seek an additional source to corroborate the ingestion history.
  • “The literature” suggests that empirically checking the acetaminophen level to exclude an occult co-ingestion is a low-yield test. Check it anyway!

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Last updated: April 14, 2010