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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

560                                             MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

Medico-Legal Points.— Poisoning by chromates is extremely rare, though they are
very poisonous. Chromic acid has produced fatal symptoms from an external applica-
tion as well as from accidentally swallowing it while it is being applied to the throat
with a throat brush.

Accidental and suicidal cases, though rare, have occurred from swallowing a bichro-
mate or a chromate solution. A man,59 aged 75 years, swallowed inadvertently and on a
fasting stomach a quantity of a 5 per cent solution of potassium bichromate containing
between 1 and 1£ grammes of the salt. After a short time vomiting and diarrhoea set in.
The fseces were green in colour and did not contain blood. Between six and seven
hours later, the patient developed painful convulsions of the arms and legs. Dyspnoea
and retention of urine were present. Two days later, the patient was catheterized and
125 cc. of red brown urine were obtained. The urine contained sugar, albumin, erythro-
cytes and leucocytes. Camphor and olive oil were administered with intestinal lavage, and
venesection was performed twice. The patient was discharged cured after about six weeks,
but with cardiac arhythmia and low blood pressure. A young woman «o in Dera Ghazi
Khan was suffering from a bad cough, and took some medicine from a travelling hakim.
She developed gastro -intestinal symptoms immediately aiter swallowing the medicine,
and died in eleven hours. Potassium bichromate was detected in the viscera submitted
to the Chemical Examiner. Two persons were suffering from asthma, and were under
the treatment of a Vaid, who gave them some yellow powder as medicine. Soon after
taking the medicine both of them began to vomit and purge, and died within twelve
hours. Potassium bichromate kas detected in quantity in the viscera of both the bodies.01
A man, who was heavily involved in debts, committed suicide by swallowing potassium
bichromate. Post-mortem examination revealed marked corrosion of the lower half
of the oesophagus. The mucous membrane of the stomach and intestine was corroded
and dark in colour.62

Potassium bichromate has been given in a few instances for homicidal purposes, as
also for procuring abortion. Dr. Michael Verzar 63 describes a case of attempted murder
in which an electrician, 46 years old, was given altogether 120 grains of potassium bichro-
mate in red wine and also in a mixture of soda and lemonade. The man recovered after
a fortnight.

Chromium salts are eliminated mainly by the kidneys, and to some extent by the
liver and bowels.

A case 64 is recorded in which several persons were poisoned through the applica-
tion of an ointment in which potassium chromate was used by mistake instead of sulphur
ordered for the treatment of scabies. Of these twelve died.

POTASSIUM

The following salts of potassium have caused poisonous symptoms : —
Potassium Nitrate (Saltpetre, Nitre, Sal Prunelle), KNO*r~In the vernacular, the
salt is called Sorakhar or Kalmi Sora. It exists as colourless, rhombic crystals. It has a
cool, saline taste, and is soluble in water. Its solubility increases with the rise of tempe-
rature. It is chiefly used in the manufacture of gunpowder and in pyrotechny. The dose
is 5 to 15 grains.

Symptoms.— Nausea, pain in the stdmach and epigastrium, vomiting and purging.
The vomited matters and stools may contain blood. The urine may also contain blood*
Dyspnoea, weak, irregular pulse, convulsions, collapse and death. Coma may precede
death. Recovery from large doses is slow, and gastric disturbances, parassthesia. cramps
and muscular twitchings or paralysis may persist for two or three months.

Fatal Dose.-~The smallest recorded fatal dose is 2 drachms. The usual fatal dose is
an ounce, though recovery has occurred even after 4 ounces.

60 ho^^^?L£l3Shorrded fatal Peri°d " 45 ^^ "* *« 10DgeSt SS
Treatment— Wash out Hie stomach with the  stomach tube, 'Give stimulants bv
hypodermic ^jection.   Apply mustard plaster on the epigastrium and wamth to the
body.   Administer mucilaginous drinks and treat the prominent symptoms.

Stockholm' Jan" 31' 1927> P- 84: Jour. Amer. Med. Assoc., May 27, 1927~

60-.   Punjab Comical Examiner's Annual Renort, 1925. t>. 3.
«Bd CP. .Chem. 3^ Afflaml Rep-                  -

'

63.   Jour. Amer. Med. Assoc., July 23, 1927, TD. 307.

64.    Jour. Amer. Med. Assoc., Nov. 21, 1919, "p. 1590.