K2 prominent in admissions audit

The synthetic cannabis product K2 was associated with 13% of admissions to an inpatient psychiatric ward in Dunedin, including one patient with homicidal thoughts, during a three-and-a-half-month audit done earlier this year.

Carried out by Prof Paul Glue, Sultan Al-Shaqsi, Douglas Hancock, Chris Gale and Leo Schep, the audit was published in the New Zealand Medical Journal this week.

K2 was thought to have affected 17 patients, admitted 21 times, out of a total of 162 admissions from January 1 to April 15.

Patients' symptoms included psychotic symptoms, anxious/depressive behaviour, and intense suicidal thinking/behaviour. One patient reported homicidal thoughts. For four patients, it was their first adm-ission to a psychiatric ward. Of the 13 with prior admissions to a psychiatric hospital, nine had recurrences of pre-existing disorders and four had new symptoms.

The mean length of stay was 8.5 days.

''Use of K2 was associated with significant [harm] requiring hospitalisation, and highlights an ongoing and substantial risk associated with use of synthetic cannabinoids,'' the audit said.

''We suggest there is a clear need for further prospective research to quantify individual and population risks of these substances.''

K2 was banned last month, ahead of legislation to regulate the legal highs industry.

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