Medical Mystery, Need Help

  1. About 3 years ago I watched a program on TV that talked about a situation that occurred in the ER at LA County General. A woman was brought into the ER and as soon as they drew her blood, everyone became sick as her blood gave off toxic fumes. Does anyone know the name of the drug the woman was using (she was a terminal CA patient) and was using an OTC drug that interacted with I think they decided was the Oxygen she was given in route to the ER. Does anyone know the name of this drug or anything about this situation or can refer me to an online article about what happened. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Visit RunningSoLate profile page

    About RunningSoLate

    Joined: Sep '00; Posts: 18; Likes: 1
    Critical Care Nurse


  3. by   CEN35
    and giving off fumes essentially from the blood? I really dooubt it? better check up on that yourself.....doesnt sound remotely possible.

    my 2 cents

  4. by   nrsbaby2be
    I can't remember the specifics, but I definitely heard of that happening.
  5. by   nilepoc
    Yes it really happened, it was in Riverside county and involoved home remedies and application of DMSO which produced a nerve gas. The discovery channel did an hour long show on it.

    Take a look out on the web for references.
  6. by   nilepoc
    An article can be found with using search terms

    dmso riverside patient poison gas

    since someone else posted a link that works, I edited this for length. you can still get it by searching as above, and looking at the cached pages.

    Last edit by nilepoc on Sep 9, '01
  7. by   Talino
    Yep, indeed there was a Toxic Lady.

    Read the details here...

    Last edit by Talino on Sep 9, '01
  8. by   RunningSoLate
    Thanks everyone. I saw that program on the Discovery Channel, but couldn't bring anything up about it on their website. I just remembered that when the toxicologists at Stanford actually did the testing, they discovered that the high level of DMSO the lady took to kill her cancer pain, combined with the oxygen she received in the ambulance, caused it to change to another compound in her blood which became lethal. Thanks again.
  9. by   prmenrs
    I'm not sure, but there may have been a CDC report on this as well, at least the one in Riverside county.

    When I first saw it on the news, I just thought they were all nuts, but when someone brought in the DMSO, that IS sold in Mexico, so it seemed more plausible. Someone in her family could've gone to TJ pharmacy, told the druggist, or curandero, or herbalist, about the woman, they could've been given something for "pain" which, unbeknownst to the rest of the family had dmso in it.

    Vets used that stuff for years, I've seen it in the granola stores, and in the early 80's, there were some legitimate research protocols for it in neurotrauma cases. Not exactly a blind study since it stunk unbelievably bad. They gave up on the study, but vets were using is as a "cures what ails 'em" on horses when my son was in a riding program about 10-12 years ago.

    Anyway, not quite ready for lame awards yet, Rick!

    I wonder if it's on the Discovery archives?
  10. by   RunningSoLate
    Well, I just couldn't let this thing be. I found the actual case story on the emergency-nurses site and here it is: Apparently when DSMO is hyperoxgenated (getting O2) it changes to DSMO2 in the bloodstream and the problem came when the blood went from body temperature to room temperature--it became a potent neurotoxin.
  11. by   puzzler

    I have some of that stuff (DMSO) in my tack room for emergency use (horses) as suggested by my Vet. Think I will dispose of it tomorrow!!

    I always learn something new on this BB!
  12. by   RunningSoLate
    I finally found the article on this subject explaining the biochemistry of the change of DMSO into the nerve toxin dimethyl sulfate. This is essentially the whole transcript in its entirety of the show that I watched on the Discovery Channel. It was found in Discover Magazine

    Analysis of a Toxic Death by Richard Stone.

    When you get to this site, it will prompt you to search by keywords--just type in Toxic Death and it will get you to the article, as it has been archived.

    Or you can try this link:
    Last edit by RunningSoLate on Sep 10, '01