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New study: Medical and financial impact of drug-related poisonings treated in US EDs
Date:3/1/2011

Over the past decade, drug-related poisonings have been on the rise in the United States. In fact, in many states drug-related poisoning deaths have now surpassed motor vehicle crash fatalities to become the leading cause of injury death. While the fatalities from this epidemic have been well reported, they are only the tip of the iceberg.

A new study by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital examined emergency department (ED) visits for drug-related poisonings and found that in just one year (2007) in the U.S., there were approximately 700,000 ED visits costing nearly $1.4 billion in ED charges alone. This equates to an average of 1,900 drug-related ED visits and $3.8 million in ED charges each and every day in this country.

"The magnitude of these findings is staggering," said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "The number and cost of drug-related poisonings identified in this study indicate a public health emergency that requires a decisive and coordinated response at national, state and local levels."

According to the study, appearing in the March 2011 issue of the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, poisoning by antidepressants and tranquilizers (24 percent) and poisoning by pain and fever control medicines (23 percent) were responsible for almost half of ED visits for drug-related poisoning. Among cases involving antidepressants and tranquilizers, 52 percent were suicidal poisonings and 30 percent were unintentional poisonings. In comparison, 41 percent of poisonings by pain and fever control medicines were suicidal and 40 percent were unintentional.

"The current epidemic of drug-related poisonings has a new face," said Dr. Smith, also a Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. "Unlike epidemics
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Contact: Erin Pope
Erin.Pope@NationwideChildrens.org
614-355-0495
Nationwide Children's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert  

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