Toxicology is the study of how toxins (street drugs, prescribed medications, occupational toxins, or chemical weapons) interact with living organisms. Fundamentally, toxicology is the discipline that concerns itself with the care of the poisoned patient.
Not only are entire textbooks written about toxicology, but they are written about specific subdivisions of toxicology: medical toxicology, environmental toxicology, regulatory toxicology, and others. A detailed discussion of the entire discipline, obviously, is beyond the scope of this introductory chapter.
Disaster medicine must concern itself with toxicology because many weapons of mass destruction and terror are toxins. A working knowledge of the principles of toxicology, therefore, is crucial for anyone who might deal with mass casualty incidents or terrorist attacks. This chapter will focus on those areas of medical toxicology that are pertinent to disaster medicine and the response to chemical or biological terrorism: identifying an incident as a toxin-mediated event, initial assessment and stabilization, post-stabilization assessment, and treatment.
Was this article helpful?