Hong Kong Med J 2011;17:292–6 | Number 4, August 2011
Mercury exposure: the experience of the Hong Kong Poison Information Centre
KL Fan, CK Chan, FL Lau
Accident and Emergency Department, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVES. To review the characteristics of the consultation about the management of mercury exposure and identify the controversial issues on the clinical management of individuals with a history of mercury exposure.
DESIGN. Descriptive case series.
SETTING. Hong Kong Poison Information Centre, Hong Kong.
PARTICIPANTS. Persons consulting the Hong Kong Poison Information Centre about individuals with possible or definitive mercury exposure.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES. Characteristics of the consultations, including: the demographics of affected individuals, source and reason for the consultation, tissue mercury levels, the source of mercury exposure, specific intervention if any, and clinical outcomes.
RESULTS. Forty-one consultations were analysed. Most consultations were from the public sector. Reasons of the consultation were very variable. Individuals with abnormal tissue mercury levels were uncommon. There was only one case of acute mercury poisoning. The majority of identified individuals were not subjected to specific interventions. Chelation therapy was given to three patients, but in one of them it was considered to be contra-indicated.
CONCLUSION. The management of mercury exposure is highly variable. Recommendations were made on the approach to an individual with potential mercury exposure or poisoning.
Key words: Mercury poisoning; Metals, heavy
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