Diagnosis of Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Medical Professionals

Medical professionals include doctors, nurses, hospice workers, emergency medical technicians, and other trained caregivers.

The role of medical professionals in the diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning is critical. However, levels of awareness of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning vary greatly.

The 2011 All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) report
highlighted the challenges faced by healthcare professionals in the diagnosis and treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to the Department of Health, around 4,000 people attending Accident and Emergency departments each year in the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. However, relatively little is known about its epidemiology.

The CO Research Trust has funded an ongoing study carried out by the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) to help gauge healthcare professionals' awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The UK National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) provides advice to healthcare professionals via the online database, TOXBASE®, and a 24-hour telephone line.

The aim of the project is to analyse all CO-related enquiries to the NPIS.

You can read more about the project here.

Information on patient demographics, carbon monoxide source and location, clinical features and poisoning severity were collected from telephone enquiries and TOXBASE accesses.

So far the project has concluded that unintentional carbon monoxide exposures in the UK commonly occur in domestic settings and although are generally of low severity, fatalities continue to occur.

Carboxyhaemoglobin (COHb) measurement is important to confirm exposure but further work is required to assess its validity as a prognostic indicator in carbon monoxide exposure.

Public health policy should continue to focus on raising awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide exposure.

Project lead Euan Sandilands, talks below about the study.

The findings of the project have been published in The Journal of Public Health, which can be viewed here.