A 9-state analysis of designer stimulant, "bath salt," hospital visits reported to poison control centers

Brandon J. Warrick, Meredith Hill, Kimberly Hekman, Rachelle Christensen, Robert Goetz, Marcel J. Casavant, Michael Wahl, James B. Mowry, Henry Spiller, Deborah Anderson, Alfred Aleguas, David Gummin, Ronald Thomas, Christopher Nezlek, Susan Smolinske

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37 Scopus citations


Study objective: A new generation of designer stimulants marketed as "bath salts" emerged in late 2010. The goal is to describe the epidemiologic emergence of designer stimulants in 9 states in the Midwest. Methods: A retrospective review of the National Poison Data System was performed between November 1, 2010, and November 30, 2011. Inclusion criteria were health care-evaluated bath salts or other synthetic stimulants exposures. Cases were excluded if the exposure was unrelated to a designer stimulant. Demographic and clinical characteristics of cases were calculated and differences in outcome and exposure by generation were examined. Results: One thousand six hundred thirty-three patients met the inclusion criteria. Age ranged from 1 day to 61 years (mean=29.2 years), with 67.9% male patients. The most common clinical features were agitation (62.2%), tachycardia (55.2%), and hallucinations (32.7%). In addition to 15.5% of patients having a major medical effect, 0.6% died. Reason for use was primarily intentional abuse (88.5%). However, 0.7% of patients reported withdrawal. Treatment involved primarily benzodiazepines (58.5%), with 8.7% of patients being intubated. Baby Boomers were more likely to have a major medical outcome (24.2%) and to report injection as the method of administration (8.6%-12.9%). Conclusion: Synthetic stimulants rapidly swept across the Midwest, resulting in more than 1,600 patients seeking medical care. Serious medical effects or death was observed in 16.1% of cases. Older generations were more likely to inject and to have a major medical outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-251
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


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