Mercuric oxide poisoning
Mercuric oxide is a form of mercury. It is a type of mercury salt. There are different types of mercury poisonings. This article discusses poisoning from swallowing mercuric oxide.
- Button battery poisoning
- Dry cell battery poisoning
- Mercuric chloride poisoning
- Mercury poisoning (general overview)
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Mercuric oxide may be found in some:
- Button batteries (batteries containing mercury are no longer sold in the United States)
Note: This list may not be all inclusive.
Seek immediate medical help. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional.
Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:
- Patient's age, weight, and condition (for example, is the person awake or alert?)
- Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The patient may receive:
- Activated charcoal
- Medicine (antidote) to reverse the effect of the poison
- Endoscopy -- camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach
- Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)
Any person who swallowed a battery will need immediate x-rays to make sure the battery is not stuck in the esophagus. Most swallowed batteries that pass through the esophagus will pass out of the body in the stool without complication. However, batteries stuck in the esophagus can cause a hole in the esophagus very quickly. It is very important to seek immediate medical help after a battery is swallowed. For more information see: Button batteries
How well a patient does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment was received. The faster a patient gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery. Mercuric oxide poisoning can lead to organ failure and death.
Goldfrank LR, ed. Goldfrank’s Toxicologic Emergencies. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2006.
Reviewed By: John E. Duldner, Jr., MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Samaritan Regional Health System, Ashland, Ohio. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.