Prehospital and disaster medicine

Hospital in the field: prehospital management of GHB intoxication by medical assistance teams.

PMID 22809488


Recreational use of gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is increasingly common at mass-gathering dance events in Australia. Overdose often occurs in clusters, and places a significant burden on the surrounding health care infrastructure. To describe the clinical presentation, required interventions and disposition of patrons with GHB intoxication at dance events, when managed by dedicated medical assistance teams. Retrospective analysis of all patrons attending St. John Ambulance medical assistance teams at dance events in the state of Victoria (Australia), from January 2010 through May 2011. Main outcome measures Clinical presentation, medical interventions and discharge destination. Sixty-one patients with GHB intoxication attended medical teams during the study period. The median age was 22 years, and 64% were male. Altered conscious state was present in 89% of attendances, and a GCS <9 in 44%. Hypotension, bradycardia and hypothermia were commonly encountered. Endotracheal intubation was required in three percent of patrons. Median length of stay onsite was 90 minutes. Ambulance transport to hospital was avoided in 65% of presentations. The deployment of medical teams at dance events and music festivals successfully managed the majority of GHB intoxications onsite and avoided acute care ambulance transfer and emergency department attendance.