Antivenom, anecdotes and evidence

Geoffrey K Isbister
Med J Aust 2004; 181 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2004.tb06524.x
Published online: 6 December 2004

Envenoming is rare in Australia — multicentre studies are needed to improve the tenuous evidence base

Whether it’s the live snake that escapes in an emergency department or the farmer, bitten by a brown snake, who drops into his wife’s work to say he will be in hospital, and then collapses and has a seizure on arriving in hospital — bites and stings are a fascinating topic and the occasional envenoming presenting to hospital makes the local news. Unfortunately, the rarity of envenoming in Australia has meant the evidence base in clinical toxinology is tenuous, with considerable reliance on case reports and anecdotes of successful treatment. Although case reports can be essential in providing information about rare effects, more importantly they help to develop hypotheses for further studies.

  • Geoffrey K Isbister

  • Newcastle Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Waratah, NSW.



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