Self-poisoning with organophosphorus (OP) compounds is a major cause of morbidity and mortality across South Asian countries. To develop uniform and effective management guidelines, the severity of acute OP poisoning should be assessed through scientific methods and a clinical database should be maintained. A prospective descriptive survey was carried out to assess the utility of severity scales in predicting the outcome of 71 organophosphate (OP) and carbamate poisoning patients admitted during a one year period at the Kasturba Hospital, Manipal, India. The Glasgow coma scale (GCS) scores, acute physiology and chronic health evaluation II (APACHE II) scores, predicted mortality rate (PMR) and Poisoning severity score (PSS) were estimated within 24 h of admission. Significant correlation (P <0.05) between PSS and GCS and APACHE II and PMR scores were observed with the PSS scores predicting mortality significantly (P ≤ 0.001). A total of 84.5% patients improved after treatment while 8.5% of the patients were discharged with severe morbidity. The mortality rate was 7.0%. Suicidal poisoning was observed to be the major cause (80.2%), while other reasons attributed were occupational (9.1%), accidental (6.6%), homicidal (1.6%) and unknown (2.5%) reasons. This study highlights the application of clinical indices like GCS, APACHE, PMR and severity scores in predicting mortality and may be considered for planning standard treatment guidelines. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd and Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine.