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Liver failure may follow acute irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. There may also be kidney damage. Other symptoms include profound weakness, hemorrhage, and heart failure. Occasionally nervous system symptoms predominate.
Gastric lavage is performed if phosphorus was swallowed. The airway is protected by cuffed endotracheal intubation. Charcoal and a cathartic drug are administered. Depending on the length of time since ingestion, intravenous fluids may be used to flush the poison out of the system by diuresis. In some cases, peritoneal or hemodialysis may be needed. The patient requires close monitoring for delayed effects for at least 24 hr. If the poison was intentionally ingested, the patient is placed on suicide precautions and referred for further psychological counseling.