Successful treatment of severe barbiturate poisoning depends on the prevention and treatment of circulatory and respiratory failure, on the maintenance of fluid and electrolyte balance and, if possible, on reducing further absorption of the drug. Such measures are effective in at least 90% of patients admitted to hospital.1 Patients who are drowsy may have taken only a small dose, and need only to sleep off its effects. However, supervision in hospital is required as the amount taken is unknown and some patients are habituated to barbiturates. This article deals with the management of the more seriously ill patient.
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