MPC Medical Director Awarded Best Platform at National Clinical Toxicology Conference

Suzanne Doyon, MD, presented with prestigious recognition for research collaboration with Maryland’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

By: Malissa Carroll
Thursday, October 10, 2013

Suzanne Doyon, MD, FACMT, medical director of the Maryland Poison Center (MPC) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, and David Fowler, MD, chief medical examiner for the state of Maryland, received the Best Platform Award at the 2013 North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology. Their collaborative project, titled "Comparison of Exposure Fatalities from the Medical Examiner's Office and the Poison Center," was selected from 18 platform submissions and represents the best research presented at the previous year's Congress.

"It is a great honor to be nationally recognized for our research efforts," says Doyon. "This paper represents a unique collaboration between the Maryland Poison Center and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. It is the first of, hopefully, multiple collaborations that will lead to a greater understanding of overdose deaths in our state."

The North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology is presented each year by the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology (AACT) and the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). It provides an opportunity for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and researchers from around the world to network and share information about a wide range of clinical toxicology topics and issues.

The purpose of Doyon and Fowler's research, which evolved from a 2010 collaboration between the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the MPC, was to determine and characterize overdose deaths that were investigated and reported by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, but that were not reported to the MPC. Doyon and Fowler examined 810 deaths caused by poisoning over a 12-month period.

"After analyzing the data, we found that 490 individuals died before arriving at the hospital, while 320 died in the hospital," says Doyon. "Reviewing those who died in the hospital, we observed that 229 died after presenting in cardiac arrest without return of spontaneous circulation and 91 died after being admitted."

She adds, "We discovered that the majority of overdose-related deaths occur in non-hospitalized settings, and that hospitals were less likely to report substance misuse or abuse, adverse drug events, or environmental exposures as the cause of death. In response to these findings, the MPC has implemented systems that allow us to capture a greater number of poisoning deaths. We hope to be reporting on these systems in the future."

In addition to a plaque presented to them at the 2013 Congress, Doyon and Fowler had their research published in Clinical Toxicology, the official journal of the AACT.