In order to be properly treated once a person has been poisoned then that person must receive oxygen immediately or in the worst case hyperbaric treatment. Doctors may not be aware of this when a victim reports to the ER, this can result in on going issues and symptoms as after a poisoning event.
The other issue that we have found is at the scene of an event ,it is vitally important to check the levels of carbon monoxide in parts per million. This can be done by the fire department and gas company or a heating engineer but is often missed. The next step is for the victim to be tested for carbon monoxide in their blood, this test is called a carboxy haemoglobin test. Following a test carboxyheamoglobin levels are presented in percentages, This can range from one or 2% in a normal person up to 40% for somebody who is either near death or who has died.
It is vitally important on many levels whether the gas is measured at the site or the carboxyheamoglobin levels are measured within the patient in order that we know exactly what we are dealing with. Only then can the correct treatment to be given and the patient be removed from suffering long term effects sometimes for the rest of their lives.
It is also worth noting that if a patient reports to the ER or their doctor with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning it is absolutely vital that they are checked for carboxyheamoglobin levels very early. If these levels are not checked within an hour from being poisoned a false result is often obtained, if the subject has presented some hours after then the result may may well have dropped back to a normal level, however the damage has been done. This is the worst case scenario and as in this event someone may be given a false negative only to go back to the place they were being poisoned in the first place.
The same may apply to somebody who is given oxygen at the scene and is subsequently tested for carbon monoxide, the oxygen will purge any carbon monoxide from the body whilst this is a good thing the reading of carboxy Haemoglobin cannot be accurately obtained, in this instance or we would have to go on is the fire department or gas company reading of parts per million at the site.