Conscious overdose victims not uncommon
September 15, 2009
It may seem strange that Christopher Kelly would be talking coherently, then die several hours later, but Oak Forest Hospital physician Srinivas Jolepalem said it's rather common in overdose cases.
"You can't say someone's stable just because they're sitting up. That's not the criteria they would use to figure out his condition," said Jolepalem, who was not on duty the night of the incident. "Once a toxin is absorbed, and it goes to the kidney and brain, many things might start happening. The person would have difficulty breathing and can become comatose then die from kidney failure or brain damage."
Depending how much of the substance the person ingested and how strong their body is, it can take up to several hours for this to happen.
Dr. Michael O'Mara, chairman of the emergency department at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, said some drugs work quickly while others might take several days to kill a person.
It's not unusual Kelly was alert, O'Mara said. In the case of an antidepressant overdose, for example, a patient might be sitting and talking with a doctor, then die the next minute.