Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

Pre-hospital treatment of snake envenomation in patients presented AT a tertiary care hospital in Northwestern India

Chauhan, S.Faruqi, S.Bhalla, A.Sharma, N.Varma, S.Bali, J.

Snakebite is an important medical emergency. Anti-snake venom along with supportive care is the only specific treatment. However, many people put their faith in non-registered medical practitioners. Where medical aid is available, lack of trained health personnel jeopardizes the situation. This retrospective study, the first of its kind, was aimed at studying the pre-hospital treatment as well as the behavior of patients bitten by snakes and referred to the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. A total of 88 cases that occurred between January 1997 and December 2001 were studied. Seventy patients received treatment prior to admission (the majority was treated by non-registered medical practitioners, registered medical practitioners, and MBBS doctors). The various treatment modalities used were: anti-snake venom (ASV), tourniquet, incision and drainage (I&D), tetanus toxoid, injections, and tablets. Non-registered medical practitioners still preferred tourniquet and I&D. The patients who were referred within 24 hours stayed less time in the hospital and spent less money on the treatment compared to those who were referred after 24 hours. Non-registered medical practitioners and inadequately trained health staff are often the first contact of snakebite victims. Their traditional and unscientific methods of treatment lead to unnecessary morbidity and increased treatment cost. It is therefore necessary to train these people adequately so that proper treatment can be instituted at the earliest.

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