As most cases of CO poisoning are accidental, preventative measures are essential and must be addressed while the patient is still in hospital. In the author's experience, 4.5% of patients had recurrent poisoning within one year.
Preventative measures are required at three levels :
- patient level (including relatives; cohabitants; children and disabled or elderly adults potentially exposed). Information on the severity of poisoning; how it occurs; initial signs to detect recurrence; and the ways to avoid recurrence should be addressed. The information must be provided in writing as well as orally.
- at the environmental level: a professional technical assessment must be initiated to identify the CO source. This can be carried out by a health engineer from the health and social services. It should target all potential etiological causes. Depending on the outcome of the survey, local social services should be alerted if necessary. - at the public health level: occurrences of CO poisoning including the cause and consequences, should be reported an appropriate statutory agency or authority (e.g., poison centre, local or regional health and social authorities). This is essential to promote a better understanding of epidemiological data and the human consequences of CO poisoning. This aspect of prevention is also crucial in order to make health authorities aware of the importance of the problem and for setting up adequate prevention programs.
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