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.
After 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
"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
"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
The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the
Australian Medical Association.