Patients who are dependent on alcohol are ingesting infection-fighting handrub, researchers have warned.
Young and confused people are also at risk from accidentally swallowing the toxic rub, which has been a key feature of hospital wards since 2005.
Study authors found that in one case study an alcohol-dependent patient who ingested 500ml of the gel collapsed and was found to have a potentially fatal blood ethanol concentration.
They recommend that large-quantity dispensers should be made secure.
‘Poisoning remains relatively uncommon but has increased since the widespread introduction of handrub. Potentially serious clinical effects can occur with ingestion,’ they wrote in the British Medical Journal.