Acute Poisoning Emergencies at Gulu University Teaching Hospitals in Northern Uganda: Prevalence, Outcomes and Clinical Challenges

  • Keneth Opiro Gulu University
  • Derrick Amone Gulu University
  • Amos Wokorach Gulu University
  • Margret Sikoti St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor
  • Felix Bongomin Gulu University
Keywords: Acute Poisoning, Northern Uganda, Clinical Challenges, Organophosphate Poisoning, Snake Bites
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Acute poisonings, including envenomation as well as toxicological emergencies stemming from accidental or intentional ingestion of poisonous substances or drug overdose, are significant worldwide causes of morbidity and mortality. The study aimed to characterise acute poisoning emergencies admitted to two major hospitals in Northern Uganda. We conducted a retrospective review of charts of all patients admitted with acute poisoning emergencies between January and December 2021, as well as a structured interview of hospital staff working in these hospitals on challenges faced while managing these emergencies. Of the total 40,653 patient admissions, 416 (1%) were due to acute poisonings. The majority were admitted to SMHL (71.4%), 43.3% were between 20 and 40 years of age, and 59.9% were males. The average length of hospital stay was 1 (0-3). The most frequent diagnoses were acute alcohol intoxications (27.2%, n=113), snake bites (26.0%, n=108), and organophosphate poisonings (21.2%, n=88). Only 29.6% (n=123) of patients received antidotes. Peak admissions were observed in February, May, and July. The majority of poisonings were intentional (61.3%), resulting in a Case Fatality Rate of 6.3%. In the qualitative findings, participants highlighted key challenges in managing these conditions, including the lack of antidotes, patients presenting late at the hospital, economic barriers, staff shortages, and limited community awareness. Acute poisoning, especially acute alcoholic intoxication, snake bites and organophosphate poisoning, are common in northern Uganda, with significant numbers dying from it. The lack of antidotes remains a problem in these hospitals. Restriction of alcohol consumption use of agricultural organophosphates, and training of healthcare workers in managing these emergencies are recommended


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22 January, 2024
How to Cite
Opiro, K., Amone, D., Wokorach, A., Sikoti, M., & Bongomin, F. (2024). Acute Poisoning Emergencies at Gulu University Teaching Hospitals in Northern Uganda: Prevalence, Outcomes and Clinical Challenges. East African Journal of Health and Science, 7(1), 34-45.