A 2-year-old previously healthy boy presents to the emergency department (ED) acting sleepier than usual. Yesterday, he was in his usual state of health, but this morning he didn’t wake up at his usual time of 6 am. When his father went to his room at 7 am, the child was lying in bed. He opened his eyes to look at his father, but did not get out of bed. The mother and father deny any trauma, fever, or seizure activity.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas and is one of the most common causes of unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States. It is also one of the most common poisoning presentations to Emergency Departments. Because CO is produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels, the incidence of accidental exposure peaks during the winter months due to increased use of in-door heating sources and reduced ventilation. 1–3 Several management dilemmas commonly arise when dealing with patients with potential CO poisoning.