State’s first toxicology service providing best care for poisoning cases

South Australia’s new clinical toxicology service is improving care and reducing time in hospital for patients who experience poisoning or envenoming.

Since the service was introduced at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in March, patients have been able to be seen immediately by a clinical toxicologist which ensures critical interventions are delivered early for serious cases.

In other instances, toxicologists can identify low exposure to poison and help reduce unnecessary hospital presentation, admission and medical retrievals.

The service, a first for the state, has been operating since March this year at the RAH and also provides a support to The Queen Elizabeth and other metro hospitals. It has already achieved a reduction in average length of stay from 4 days to just 1.8 days.

The team has also reviewed and refined the RAH’s antidote and antivenom stocks, and is able to assist other metropolitan hospitals with advice and interventions in poisoning and envenoming cases.

New toxicology guidelines

Toxicologist Dr Sam Alfred, who is the clinical lead for the service, was one of 14 experts involved in updating the national clinical guidelines for the toxicology and toxinology which are now available for clinicians treating poisonings.

Poisonings and envenoming contribute significantly to hospital caseloads, but are something individual practitioners generally encounter irregularly.

The Toxicology and Toxinology guideline is available through the eTG app or the link below:

Future opportunities

As part of a collaboration with the national Poisons Information Centre, the clinical toxicology service is delivering SA’s only Toxicology Fellowship training pathway and is seeking accreditation for a toxicology registrar.