x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Push for 24-hour poison treatment

Abu Dhabi considering new poison centre to cut misdiagnosis.

Authorities in the capital are considering setting up a 24-hour poison control centre to prevent misdiagnoses.

The idea gained support after 10 people admitted to the Iranian Hospital recently were incorrectly treated for food poisoning when they were in fact suffering as a result of pesticides sprayed in a neighbour's flat.

"Misdiagnoses can lead to death," said Asia Al Raeesi, head of food planning and studies at the municipality's food control department.

"Doctors should raise this issue, especially because the cases of misdiagnosed chemical poisoning are increasing."

The Poison and Drug Information Centre (PDIC), which is regulated by the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (Haad), is the only dedicated facility in the country but is open only between 7am and 3pm.

The centre assesses callers by phone and advises them how to handle situations at home.

"We need a national point of contact that operates 24 hours a day," said Dr Mohamed Baniyas, a consult chemical toxicologist with Tawam Hospital in Al Ain. "What we have now works more as an information centre than one for treatment or control."

Dr Yasser Sharif, head of the PDIC, said Haad is taking the recommendation seriously, and plans are under way to open the centre for 24 hours a day. However, he could not say when the round-the-clock service would begin.

"We need to ensure we have the qualified professionals this will require," Dr Sharif said. "We are really working hard to make this happen."