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Ann Emerg Med. 2013 Sep;62(3):244-51. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.12.017. Epub 2013 Mar 26.

A 9-state analysis of designer stimulant, "bath salt," hospital visits reported to poison control centers.

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  • 1Children's Hospital of Michigan Regional Poison Center, Detroit, MI, USA.



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.


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.


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%).


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.

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