An alcoholic man, treated with chloral hydrate (CH) syrup to which he was dependent, was discovered comatose and in respiratory arrest. Death occurred on the ninth day of hospitalization following cerebral oedema. A woman, alcohol addicted, depressed, and epileptic was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit with heart and respiratory failure following CH absorption. She died three days later after a deep coma.
In these two cases, CH intoxication was confirmed by toxicological analysis: CH and its major metabolite, trichloroethanol (TCE), were identified and determined in serum and urine using headspace-capillary gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The concentrations measured were compared with those found in previously published fatalities. The analytical method used can be proposed for both clinical and forensic cases.
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