A toxinologist is encouraging doctors to rely on redback spider anti-venom even though a recent insight by a Hunter researcher had advised the contrary.
A study of more than 200 patients conducted by Calvary Mater Hospital toxicologist Geoff Isbister had led him to suggest that there was not much difference in the outcome for those who received treatment with anti-venom and those who did not.
According to the head of toxinology at the Adelaide Women and Children's Hospital Julian White, this study has not undergone peer review. He confirms that his experience of using the anti-venom has always been positive. Antivenom has been found to be effective too.
Professor White said, "Dr Isbister's findings do not gel with a fairly vast clinical experience around the world including a very substantial experience here in Australia. And I would expect most doctors to be hesitant to change a well-established and currently effective treatment regiment on the basis of a single piece of research from a single group."
Professor White has cautioned that victims could suffer if doctors stop giving the redback anti-venom.
Professor White says "If doctors stopped using this anti-venom, then in my experience and certainly supported by the literature, we could expect many more patients to have prolonged periods of suffering from significant redback bites. This is not really a major threat to life, however, it's not the same as snake bite. People are not likely to die from redback envenoming."