Poison (House)

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House episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 8
Directed by Guy Ferland
Written by Matt Witten
Original air date January 25, 2005 (2005-01-25)
Guest actors
Season 1 episodes
List of House episodes

"Poison" is the eighth episode of the first season of House, which premiered on the Fox network on January 25, 2005. House and his team investigate the mysterious poisoning of high-school student Matt Davis but another teen is brought in with all of the same symptoms but almost nothing else in common with Matt. The episode appears to be based on the article "The Dead Mosquitos" by Berton Roueche,[1] detailing a case in the Fresno area, or the story "Mystery of the Poisoned Boy" by Dian Dincin Buchman,[2] based on the same case. This episode received almost double the viewers than the previous episodes of the season, with 12.37 million viewers, and continued to receive more viewers throughout the rest of the season.


A student named Matt (guest star, John Patrick Amedori) falls ill during an AP Calculus exam. He stands up, collapses and goes into convulsions.

Matt has severe bradycardia. Foreman presents the case to House who thinks it is simply drug use. While Chase examines the boy, he goes into a seizure.

On House's orders, Foreman and Cameron inspect Matt's home for signs of drug use. They turn up nothing, but Cameron finds a jar of tomato sauce with the lid popped, which could indicate a bacterial infection. House says the seizures rule out food-borne toxins, or drug use as Foreman points out, and so the team suspects some sort of poison.

Chase informs Matt's mother the blood work is conclusive that an organophosphate is causing Matt's trouble. Matt is hooked up to an IV of pralidoxime. Suddenly, Matt's heart rate plummets.

The team is stumped, leading Foreman to mention an experimental treatment that could work, but they need to know the exact poison in order to give the exact poison hydrolase. Foreman and Cameron go back to Matt's house to see what kind of pesticides might be used on the tomato garden he keeps. Cameron finds an empty can of disulfoton, a garden pesticide, so Chase prepares an injection of disulfoton hydrolase. Matt's mother, however, insists he only used orange peel oil on the garden. He dumped the disulfoton because he couldn't use pesticides in his environmental science class. Since the hydrolase would increase the toxicity if they're wrong, Matt's mother begs Chase not to inject her son.

Cuddy tells House he will need to get the mother to sign off on rejection of the treatment. He changes the legal language to be extremely brutal and blunt when reading it to her. The mother changes her position but before they can start Matt on the hydrolase another patient named Chi is admitted with identical symptoms. Although the two have never had any contact, they do go to the same school.

Chase and Cameron inspect the school bus Matt and Chi both rode that morning. The driver tells them he noticed a truck spraying pesticides near a pond. The county had been spraying ethylparathion to fight West Nile virus, and there is a hydrolase for that, but Matt's mother again refuses treatment until she hears from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Cameron is sent in to talk to her, but she still refuses until an angry Cameron lays it out for her, causing her finally to relent.

The team administers the hydrolase. Later, both boys go into convulsions, the doctors save them, but the boys are left in terrible shape. Ethylparathion is dismissed as the poison and so Foreman and Cameron head out on another inspection in order to discover any potential poisons shared by the boys. They find a 128-ounce bottle of TKO detergent in each house but Chi's mother insists her son wore all-new clothes that day that had never been washed. House and Chase salvage Chi's and Matt's clothes from storage and run tests on them, which test positive for phosdrin (CAS 7786-34-7), similar to mevinphos.

Matt's mother again rejects treatment until she hears from the CDC. House visits her once again but instead of merely talking, he decides to just sit in the room with the medicine to put pressure on Matt's mother. As House predicted, the CDC claims they can't diagnose Matt simply by records and would not be able to visit Matt in time. The mother agrees to the third hydrolase, which is successful, as Matt and Chi both recover. Chase had called Matt's mother using a fake accent to tell her the CDC could not help.

Foreman informs House a man was selling pants out of the back of his truck, while his second job was at a cornfield. Pesticide was spilled on the pants, which were never washed. Matt's mother tells House she received a call from the CDC, afterwards telling her now recovered son that "they [House and Foreman] are the arrogant jerks that saved your life."


  1. ^ The Dead Mosquitoes, Annals of Crime , The New Yorker, October 11, 1969
  2. ^ Medical Mysteries: Six Deadly Cases, Scholastic, Inc. New York, NY, 1992

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