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A 9-state analysis of designer stimulant, "bath salt," hospital visits reported to poison control centers. Ann Emerg Med 2013 Sep;62(3):244-51



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-84882819121   34 Citations


STUDY OBJECTIVE: A new generation of designer stimulants marketed as "bath salts" emerged in late 2010. The goal is to describe the epidemiologic emergence of designer stimulants in 9 states in the Midwest.

METHODS: A retrospective review of the National Poison Data System was performed between November 1, 2010, and November 30, 2011. Inclusion criteria were health care-evaluated bath salts or other synthetic stimulants exposures. Cases were excluded if the exposure was unrelated to a designer stimulant. Demographic and clinical characteristics of cases were calculated and differences in outcome and exposure by generation were examined.

RESULTS: One thousand six hundred thirty-three patients met the inclusion criteria. Age ranged from 1 day to 61 years (mean=29.2 years), with 67.9% male patients. The most common clinical features were agitation (62.2%), tachycardia (55.2%), and hallucinations (32.7%). In addition to 15.5% of patients having a major medical effect, 0.6% died. Reason for use was primarily intentional abuse (88.5%). However, 0.7% of patients reported withdrawal. Treatment involved primarily benzodiazepines (58.5%), with 8.7% of patients being intubated. Baby Boomers were more likely to have a major medical outcome (24.2%) and to report injection as the method of administration (8.6%-12.9%).

CONCLUSION: Synthetic stimulants rapidly swept across the Midwest, resulting in more than 1,600 patients seeking medical care. Serious medical effects or death was observed in 16.1% of cases. Older generations were more likely to inject and to have a major medical outcome.

Author List

Warrick BJ, Hill M, Hekman K, Christensen R, Goetz R, Casavant MJ, Wahl M, Mowry JB, Spiller H, Anderson D, Aleguas A, Gummin D, Thomas R, Nezlek C, Smolinske S


David Gummin MD Professor in the Emergency Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Akathisia, Drug-Induced
Child, Preschool
Designer Drugs
Infant, Newborn
Middle Aged
Midwestern United States
Poison Control Centers
Retrospective Studies
Substance-Related Disorders
Young Adult