OBJECTIVE: To study the characteristics of patients admitted with drug overdose caused either by accidental overdose of the prescribed medications or as an act of deliberate self harm (DSH) at a tertiary care hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.METHODS: A retrospective case series review was conducted at the Aga Khan University Hospital from January 2002 to October 2006. Three hundred and twenty four adult patients admitted with drug overdose were included in the study.RESULTS: Our sample group revealed mean age of 36.2 +/- 17.0 years, more females (59%), housewives (34%), and students (20%). Fifty six percent of patients committing DSH were married (p = 0.001), 81% needed in-patient psychiatric services (p = 0.016) of whom a significantly high number (38%) refused it. Domestic and social issues were rated highest among DSH group (p = 0.003), depression among females was common (p = 0.028) and Benzodiazepines (41%) was the most frequently used drug (p = 0.021). Sub-group analysis of accidental overdoses revealed mean age of 45.6 +/- 19.6 years, single (75.4%) and males (54.1%). Drugs used were mainly Benzodiazepines (18%) followed by Opioids (11%), Antiepileptics (10%) and Warfarin (10%).CONCLUSION: Our study showed that depressed housewives are at greater risk for DSH. Domestic and social issues were rated highest and Benzodiazepines were the most commonly used agents. Most of our patients refused inpatient psychiatric treatment leading us to believe that general awareness of psychiatric illnesses is imperative in our community. High number of accidental overdoses is alarming in older, single males convincing us to believe that existing pharmacy system needs further evaluation and modification.
Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association
(2008). Drug overdose: a wake up call! Experience at a tertiary care centre in Karachi, Pakistan. Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association, 58(6), 298-301.
Available at: http://ecommons.aku.edu/pakistan_fhs_mc_emerg_med/9