A patient who drank a large volume of antibacterial hand gel while being treated in an Australian hospital for alcoholism has sparked calls for the alcohol-based hand sanitizer to be better secured.
The 45-year-old man, who had a history of substance abuse, had been admitted to The Alfred three days earlier with alcohol-related gastritis, Dr Michael Oldmeadow and colleagues wrote in a letter published in the latest Medical Journal of Australia.
AdvertisementAfter the patient became increasingly drowsy for no apparent reason, medical staff found six near-empty 375mL bottles of Aqium Gel, a hand sanitiser with an ethanol content of 66 per cent, by his bedside.
"On direct questioning, the patient admitted to intentionally consuming the contents of the hand sanitiser bottles," Dr Oldmeadow said.
"This was supported by a breath test performed about 40 minutes after the bottles were found, which showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.271 per cent."
The patient recovered. However, serious adverse outcomes after intentional consumption of alcohol-based hand sanitisers have been recorded overseas, leading one emergency department to replace all removable bottles in patient care areas with non-removable, selfcontained dispensers.
"Experience at our institution over the past six months suggests that consumption of alcoholbased hand sanitisers by patients may be an increasing problem in Australian settings - we are aware of a further three patients who have consumed these products while at our institution," Dr Oldmeadow said.
"An increased awareness of this practice is required among health care workers in Australia, as it has the potential to create diagnostic dilemmas and lead to adverse outcomes for patients. Preventive measures need to be identified and implemented."
The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.