Objective.—The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of a nationally developed snakebite treatment protocol on the amount of anti snake venom (ASV) used in treating snakebites in a developing country and its effect on mortality. In addition, basic epidemiology data were collected and analyzed.
Methods.—Experts in Indian snakebites developed a protocol specifically designed for snakebite treatment in India. A training program was implemented in Midnapore Medical College in West Bengal, India, under the direction of the Health Minister to train care providers in the new protocol. After training, data were collected for 839 snakebite victims over a 12-month period and included epidemiological data, ASV volumes administered, and mortality. The results were collated and compared with results calculated from 780 snakebite victims treated during the 12-month period before implementation of the protocol. Treatment prior to protocol implementation was based on knowledge gained by the care providers from western and forensic medicine textbooks.
Results.—Protocol-guided treatment resulted in a 66% decline in the amount of ASV administered to victims. Fewer victims received ASV based on rational guidelines for assessing envenomation, dosage and repeat dosage, and clear endpoints to ASV therapy. In addition, there was a trend towards reduced mortality and an absolute reduction of 24%.
Conclusion.—Use of the protocol reduced ASV utilization and the number of deaths. Locally developed protocols should be encouraged by such organizations as the World Health Organization and national and state governments and should be established with significant input from local experts.