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J Korean Soc Emerg Med > Volume 27(1); 2016 > Article
Journal of The Korean Society of Emergency Medicine 2016;27(1): 69-74.
Accuracy of Tablet Counts Estimated by Members of the Public and Healthcare Professionals
Hyun-Sik Choi, Yoon Hee Choi
Department of Emergency Medicine, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
Correspondence  Hyun-Sik Choi ,Tel: 02) 2650-5296, Fax: 02) 2650-5060, Email: mdchoihs@gmail.com,
Received: October 13, 2015; Revised: October 14, 2015   Accepted: December 23, 2015.  Published online: February 29, 2016.
Intentional and accidental drug intoxication is commonly seen in the emergency department. When treating intoxicated patients, the amount of the ingested drug is crucial albeit often difficult. We investigated the tablet counts when asked to hold tablets in their fists and hands (semi-quantitative terms).
The widths and lengths of the participants’hands were measured. Then, the subjects were asked to hold 5-mm round, 10-mm round, 10-mm oval, and 15-mm elliptical tablets using their hands and fists and to estimate the number of tablets they were holding. Differences between the estimated and actual numbers of tablets were examined.
A total of 47 members of the public and 33 healthcare professionals were included in our study. In analyses of differences between the actual and estimated amounts of tablets held in the participants’hands and fists, the actual amount was higher than the estimated amount for all tablet types and in both groups. When participants held the tablets in the same manner (handful or fistful), the differences between the actual and estimated amounts were greater for 5- than 15-mm-sized tablets (p<0.05)
Treatment of patients presenting with drug overdoses to the emergency department should be based on the assumption that the actual amount of drugs ingested is likely greater than the amount stated by the patient.
Key words: Drug overdose, Emergency service, Hospital, Knowledge
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