A medical toxicologist or regional poison control center should be consulted on most symptomatic hydrocarbon exposures and asymptomatic exposures that involve halogenated, aromatic, and hydrocarbon exposures with toxic additives. Hospitalization is required for patients who have ingested aliphatic hydrocarbons who are symptomatic at the time of evaluation. After a six-hour observation period, asymptomatic patients with a normal chest x-ray may be discharged home.8 Similar disposition of asymptomatic patients, with abnormal chest x-rays has also been suggested if reliable follow-up can be ensured. However some physicians prefer to watch these patients for 24 h in the hospital. Hospitalization is advisable for those who ingest hydrocarbons capable of producing delayed complications (e.g., halogenated hydrocarbons causing hepatic toxicity) and those with toxic additives (organophosphates). All patients taking ingestions with suicidal intent or presenting with complications of solvent abuse should have psychiatric evaluation following medical clearance.
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