Twelve patients with 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) toxicity from a single rave event presented to multiple San Francisco Bay area hospitals with various life-threatening complications including seizures and hyperthermia. Eight required emergent endotracheal intubation and six had hypotension. Hyperkalemia, acute kidney injury, and rhabdomyolysis were present in most of the patients. In all, 2 patients died, 4 survived with permanent neurologic, musculoskeletal, and/or renal sequelae, and 6 survived without any apparent lasting deficits. Hyperthermia was present in 10 patients and was severe (40.9-43 C) in 7.
Using multiple cooling methods, the average time to achieve cooling was 2.7 hours. Serum drug analysis was performed on 3 patients, demonstrating toxic MDMA concentrations without the presence of other xenobiotics. Two capsules confiscated by police at the event contained 82% and 98% MDMA, respectively, without other pharmacologically active compounds. Capsule #2 contained 270 mg MDMA, which is more than twice the amount of MDMA usually contained in 1 dose. The MDMA-induced hyperthermia significantly contributed to the morbidity and mortality in this case series. Factors contributing to the severity of the hyperthermia include ingestion of large doses of MDMA, a warm ambient environment, and physical exertion.