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Suspected aconitine poisoning case investigated

     The Department of Health (DH) is investigating a suspected aconitine poisoning case involving a 72-year-old woman.

     The woman with known history of hypertension and taking western medicines, attended the Accident and Emergency Department (AED) of Queen Elizabeth Hospital on May 24, presenting with a sensation of feeling hot and numbness of extremities.

     She stayed there overnight for observation. Her symptoms subsided and she was discharged from the observation room the next day. Test results on her urine specimen are pending.

     Investigation revealed that she had visited a Chinese medicine practitioner (CMP) for lower limb swelling on May 24 and was prescribed with some Chinese herbal medicines which contained Processed Radix Aconiti Lateralis. The above symptoms appeared within half an hour of taking the medicine, and were compatible with mild aconitine poisoning.

     Site inspection to the CMP premises by DH did not reveal gross irregularities. Samples have been collected for analysis. The investigation continues.

     Processed Radix Aconiti Lateralis is known to contain aconitine in low level and is commonly used by Chinese medicine practitioners to treat patients with bone pain or heart problems.

     Initial investigations did not reveal that the prescription had exceeded the recommended dose. So far, no other patients who have been prescribed with Processed Radix Aconiti Lateralis by the same CMP have developed similar symptoms.

     A DH spokesman said: "While this case might be related to the individual's susceptibility to aconitine poisoning, our investigation will continue to rule out quality defects in the Processed Radix Aconiti Lateralis supplied.

     Members of the public are advised to inform healthcare professionals, when they seek medical consultation, about their past medical histories and the medicines that they have been taking, and especially if they have been seeing different healthcare professionals.

     Chinese medicine practitioners' instructions for preparation and consumption of any Chinese herbal medicines should be strictly followed. They should seek medical attention promptly if they develop adverse reactions after taking herbal medicines.

     "If patients have any questions about their herbs at hand, they should consult their attending Chinese medicine practitioner," he said.

Ends/Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Issued at HKT 23:32


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