Urszula Fałkowska, Agnieszka Radzka, Wanda Dobryniewska, Karol Krawiec and Michał Tchórz
Introduction. There are approximately 300 species of poisonous plants in Poland. About 50 of them contain toxic substances which pose threat to health when consumed. Accidental poisonings remain the most common cause, but there were also cases correlated to suicidal or criminal purposes. There are only few toxicological departments in Poland keeping the records of plant poisonings, what makes presented data inaccurate. Aim. The authors decided to evaluate knowledge of Polish medical students regarding toxic plants and symptoms of its intoxication. Material and methods. The number of 734 online responses from students enrolled in medical studies at 16 different Polish universities were collected and analyzed to draw a conclusion. Results. As many as 87.6% of all respondents were in favor of introducing obligatory classes covering the issue of toxic plants. They were also asked to identify plants presented in the pictures. When it comes to 53.1% of students, they were familiar with Datura stramonium L. Over half of the participants were able to recognize the mild symptoms of intoxication, when 25.9% linked the poisoning to narcotic sleep. Taxus baccata L. was identified by 86.6% of the respondents and the majority of them possessed knowledge about the related symptoms. Heracleum sosnowskyi Manden. and Caltha palustris L. were recognized by respectively 94% and 64% of the students. As many as 84.1% of participants knew the effects of Heracleum sosnowskyi Manden intoxication. All correct answers related to this poisoning were chosen by 48.3% respondents. The results revealed that the symptoms of Caltha palustris L. are unknown to the majority. Atropa belladonna L. was successfully identified by 93.6%, Galanthus nivalis L. by 55.4% of the students, with a lower percentage of correct responses related to its intoxication. Conclusions. Such differentiated knowledge can be the result of both educational variances and personal experience. Polish medical universities should consider introducing extra classes that would cover the issue of toxic plant intoxications.
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