Clinical Queries: Caring for a snakebite victim
Jill Rushing MSN, RN

June 2011 
Volume 41  Number 6
Pages 60 - 60
  PDF Version Available!

What's the initial emergency management for a patient who comes to the ED following a snakebite?- C.P., TEX.Jill Rushing, MSN, RN, responds: Although many snakebites don't result in envenomation, they're a potential medical emergency.1 Start by being familiar with the poisonous snakes in your region. Most snakes indigenous to the United States aren't poisonous except for the crotalids (rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins, and cottonmouths) and the elapids (coral snakes). Contact the local poison control center or national Poison Help hotline (800-222-1222) for assistance in identifying the snake and recommended treatments, and also for guiding treatment when a patient has been bitten by an exotic pet snake. Don't delay treatment if the snake can't be identified.2 No one should try to capture the snake for identification because many are bitten in the attempt.Assess and maintain the ABCs, monitor vital signs frequently, and administer supplemental oxygen as indicated. Establish large-bore

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