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A stage one warning has been issued to raise awareness of the risk of death or serious harm from accidental ingestion of potassium permanganate preparations that are for external use.
Potassium permanganate is used in topical preparations for the care of wounds because of its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. It is available as a solution for further dilution and as a tablet preparation, which is dissolved in water. It is for external use only and can be fatal if ingested orally.
Although packaging clearly states potassium permanganate should not be swallowed, it is very unusual for a topical preparation to come in a tablet form, and therefore some staff, patients and carers may accidentally treat it as an oral preparation. The risk of accidentally swallowing the solution also increases where containers were used such as plastic cups or jugs.
When accidental ingestion has occurred, staff have not always appeared aware of the need to treat it as a medical emergency.