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Poisoning Statistics


Poisonings: The Local Picture
(2013) (Washington, DC metro area)

In 2013, the National Capital Poison Center provided consultations for 54,534 callers from the DC metro area.  Sixty-nine percent (38,197) were about people exposed to a poison. Other consultations involved pet poisonings (1,566) and information requests (14,771).  Some interesting facts include: 
  • Most poison exposures (77%) were unintentional.  The Center also received calls about other types of poisonings: medication side effects, substance abuse, malicious poisonings, and suicide attempts. 
  • 14,771 people (27%) called for poison-related information. Their questions were about possible problems with medication interactions, pesticide use, workplace chemicals, the safety of specific medications while breast-feeding, and many more topics.
  • 44% of poison exposures involved children younger than six, but the most serious cases occurred in adolescents and adults.
  • 55% of poison exposures involved medications; other exposures were to household or automotive products, plants, mushrooms, pesticides, animal bites and stings.
  • 75% of poison exposures involved people who swallowed a drug or poison. People were also poisoned by inhalation and through exposures to the skin or eyes.
  • 65% of poison exposures were safely managed over the phone and did not need medical treatment in a health care facility. However, 82% of those who called a poison center first, before gong to a health care facility were safety treated at home. This number increases to 90% for pediatric poisonings when the Poison Center is consulted first, before other medical intervention is sought.

Most Common Poison Exposures for
Young Children and Adults
National Capital Poison Center, 2013

Children < 6 Years

(16,655 Exposures)

Substance

No.

Cosmetics/personal care products

2,541

Cleaners

1,758

Pain medications

1,495

Foreign bodies

1,359

Topical medicines

963

Vitamins

808

Antihistamines

793

Batteries

672

Plants and mushrooms

537

Antimicrobials

509

Pesticides

470

Arts/crafts/office supplies

447

Gastrointestinal preparations

393

Adults 20 and Older

(15,567 Exposures)

Substance

No.

Pain relievers

2,763

Sedatives/hypnotics/antipsychotics

1,994

Cleaning substances

1,486

Antidepressants

1,307

Cardiovascular drugs

1,186

Alcohols

1,120

Stimulants and street drugs

739

Pesticides

726

Anticonvulsants

637

Antihistamines

635

Cosmetics/personal care products

634

Fumes/gases/vapors

621


 

 

 


 

Poisonings: The National Picture

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2008 over 41,000 people died as a result of poisoning, and poisoning became the leading cause of injury death for the first time since at least 19801. The poisoning death rate nearly tripled over the past 30 years and the percentage of poisoning deaths that were caused by drugs increased from about 60% to about 90%1. Nearly 9 out of 10 poisoning deaths are caused by drugs, and opioid pain medications were involved in more than 40% of all 2008 drug poisoning deaths, up from about 25% in 19991  In 2008, nationally, about 76% of poisoning deaths were unintentional, 16% were suicides, and 8% were of undetermined intent2.

According to data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, nonfatal poisoning rates across all age groups are currently on the rise, even among age groups that had been enjoying an overall decline over the past decade2.  The increase has been most dramatic among adults aged 20 years and older.  Children aged 6 to 12 have consistently had the lowest rate of nonfatal poisoning injury while teens and adults aged 20-59 have consistently had the highest rates. 

 

The National Capital Poison Center is one of 57 regional poison centers that serves the US.  Poison centers handled 2.3 million human poison exposures in 20113, but this figure does not reflect the magnitude of poison-related injury and death in the United States because many poisonings do not involve a call to the poison center.  In 2010 there were 42,917 deaths attributed to poison2 yet poison centers were consulted in 1,730 poisoning fatalities4 (only 4%).  The CDC estimated that there were 1,098,880 poisoning injuries in 2010 that resulted in a visit to an emergency department2.  However, poison centers were involved in only 601,197 cases that involved treatment at a health care facility, indicating that poison centers are not consulted for many poisoning-related ED visits4.  Poisonings also go unreported when people do not realize they have been exposed, choose not to seek medical treatment or advice, do not have access to medical care, or do not know about poison center services.

 


References

1.  Warner M, Chen LH, Makuc DM, Anderson RN, and Minino AM.  Drug Poisoning Deaths in the United States, 1980–2008.  National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief, December 2011.  Accessed 2/21/2013.

2.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online]. (2003). National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). Available from: URL: www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars. Accessed 2/11/2013.

3.    Bronstein AC, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR, Rumak BH, Dart RC.  2011 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 29th Annual Report.  Clin Toxicol 2012; 50: 911-1164.

4.    Bronstein AC, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR, Green JL, Rumak BH, Dart RC.  2010 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 28th Annual Report.  Clin Toxicol 2011; 49: 910-941.




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