Inconsistent approach to the treatment of chronic digoxin toxicity in the United States

B. M. Kirrane, R. E. Olmedo, L. S. Nelson, M. Mercurio-Zappala, M. A. Howland, R. S. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Evidence-based guidelines do not exist for the treatment of patients with chronic mildg-moderate digoxin toxicity. We sought to evaluate differences among specialists in the use of digoxin-specific antibody fragments and the decision to admit these patients. A sample of cardiologists, emergency physicians, and medical toxicologists was surveyed. The survey detailed four hypothetical cases of chronic digoxin toxicity created by consensus among authors. All cases had the same digoxin concentration, but signs and symptoms varied in an attempt to explore four different thresholds. For each scenario, clinicians made decisions about admission and treatment. Survey response varied: cardiologists 17%, emergency physicians 6.7%, and toxicologists 39%. Statistically significant difference was found in the administration of Fab among cardiologists (67%), emergency physicians (82%), or toxicologists (91.5%) and admission rate (cardiologists 34%, emergency physicians 28%, and toxicologists 46%). Differences exist among clinicians of various specialties regarding treatment of chronic digoxin toxicity. These differences may reflect diverse perspectives or knowledge gaps and may translate into excess cost or less than ideal care. Exploring these differences may improve patient care, improve interactions among providers, and set the stage for development of consensus guidelines and research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-292
Number of pages8
JournalHuman and Experimental Toxicology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Chronic toxicity
  • Clinical practice patterns
  • Digoxin
  • Medical decision making
  • Therapeutics


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