Synthetic Drug Intoxication in Children - Emergency Department | Digest

Synthetic Drug Intoxication in Children: Recognition and Management in the Emergency Department

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Points and Pearls Excerpt

  • For older children and adolescents, use a conventional screening tool such as HEADSS (Home; Education/Employment; Activities; Drugs; Sexuality; and Suicide/depression) to elicit key historical information, as those who use synthetic cannabinoids are more likely to engage in risky behaviors involving substance use and sexual activity when compared peers who use conventional marijuana only.
  • Assess patients for suicidality and common co-ingestions, as polysubstance abuse is common. In particular, acetaminophen overdose is concerning given the brief window of opportunity for intervention.
  • Conventional urine and serum laboratory studies cannot reliably detect the presence of all synthetic drugs and their metabolites. However, a urine toxicology screen that is positive for conventional marijuana should raise suspicion for synthetic marijuana use.
  • Provide supportive care for mild cases of synthetic cannabinoid intoxication.

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Publication Information

Rahul Shah, MD; Carl R. Baum, MD, FAAP, FACMT

Peer Reviewed By

Michael Levine, MD; Dan Quan, DO

Publication Date

May 2, 2018

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