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Original Research

Open Access

Estimating poisoning substance amounts: Comparative study of the accuracy of health care professionals and non-practitioners


1Department of Emergency Medicine, College of Medicine, Chung-Ang University

2 Department of Emergency Medicine, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea

DOI: 10.22514/SV132.112017.12 Vol.13,Issue 2,November 2017 pp.79-84

Published: 06 November 2017

*Corresponding Author(s): CHOI YOON HEE E-mail:


Objective. Intentional or unintentional substance intoxications are common in patients presenting to the Emergency Department (ED). When we treat intoxi-cated patients, it is important to know the amount of drug ingestion. We invested the actual amount of semi-quantitative term expressed by patients, and investigated the accuracy of amount estimates by the public and healthcare professionals. Participants and interventions. 200 vol-unteers (86 health care providers and 114 non-practitioners) participated. Partici-pants grabbed the 3 types of tablets (5mm, 10mm, and 15mm) in handfuls and fistfuls and estimated the tablet amounts. Actual amounts were measured. 100 volunteers (58 health care providers and 41 non-prac-titioners) participated in the investigation of accuracy of liquid amount estimation. Participant ingested water in 2.6 cm diam-eter bottle in response to request to take 1 sip, 1 mouthful, and 3 sips.

Results. The estimated tablet counts be-came more accurate in terms of both fist-fuls and handfuls as the size increased within the same shape classification. Par-ticipants tended to underestimate the counts of oval-shaped tablets to a greater extent than round tablets of the same size. The estimated liquids both groups of participants tended to underestimate the amounts but both groups overestimated the volumes when drinking 3 continuous sips. In tablets and liquids, there were no statistically significant differences in accu-racy between the groups.

Conclusions. When approaching intoxi-cated patients who have visited emergency department (ED), treatment should be im-plemented based on the assumption that the actual ingested amounts are higher than the amounts estimated by patients.


intoxication, tablets, amount, estimation, liquids

Cite and Share

LEE DONG HOON,CHOI YOON HEE,LEE DUK HEE. Estimating poisoning substance amounts: Comparative study of the accuracy of health care professionals and non-practitioners. Signa Vitae. 2017. 13(2);79-84.


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