Retrospective review of case records of snakebite presenting to a single tertiary care centre over a 5-year period

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The National medical journal of India


Background Snakebite is a disease of the poor, and hospitals catering to these individuals are often resource-constrained. Lack of electronic medical records in these resource-limited settings makes the capture of data even harder. Methods Before establishing a snakebite registry in the region, we did a retrospective case record review of all snakebite victims (n=3229) over 5 years who presented to a single tertiary care centre, catering to one of the largest number of snakebite victims in the country. Results Of the 451 cases, 262 (58.1%) presented to the emergency department within 2 hours of the bite. In 170 instances, the snake was brought along and the species of the snake was recorded. Russell's viper was the most common (130; 76.5%). Blood products were used in 237 (52.5%) patients. Acute kidney injury occurred in 165 (36.6%) patients, of whom 37 (8.2%) required dialysis. The mean (SD) duration of hospital admission was 10.5 (7.4) days. There was a significant correlation between number of snakebites with rainfall and humidity. One hundred and seven cases (3.3%) of snakebite resulted in mortality. A majority of mortality records were not available (88%; 94/107), rendering us incapable of doing reliable mortality data correlations or interpretation. Conclusion Viperidae bites predominate in the region, with renal injury being the most common cause for morbidity. Region-specific, prospective snakebite mapping could be a cost-effective strategy that might help in vulnerability analysis of the region. A multi-centric region-specific snakebite registry encompassing not just the clinico-epidemiological characteristics of snakebite victims, but also the demographic data, the pre-hospital care and local remedial practices, geospatial distribution, anti-snake venom and blood product usage, will help in developing better healthcare strategies for snakebite victims in India.

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