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Drug-Related Poisoning The Cause For Nearly 700,000 Emergency Department Visits a Year, According to New Research
Date:3/16/2011

699,123 U.S. emergency department visits for drug-related poisoning occurred in 2007, according to AJEM study.
  • Nearly 28,000 unintentional drug-related poisoning deaths in the United States in 2007.
  • Infants to children 5-years old have the highest rate of unintentional poisoning.
  • Antidepressants and painkillers were responsible for 43 percent of all drug-related poisoning.
  • The estimated emergency department charges for drug-related poisonings were $1.4 billion.

  • How to Prevent Unintentional Drug Poisonings:

    • Keep all drugs out of the reach of young children.  Lock medicine cabinets and properly dispose of old medications.
    • Lock any cabinets that contain alcohol or make sure any alcohol beverages are in an area where only a legal adult can access it.
    • Follow directions on the label when taking medications.  Make sure to read all warning signs listed.
    • Never share or sell prescription drugs.
    • Keep all pain medication in a place where they can only be accessed only by someone who takes them or gives them.
    • Put the poison control number, 1-800-222-1222 near every home telephone and save it in your cell phone.  The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • Avoid taking medicine in front of young children because they mimic adults.
    • Never leave children alone with household products or drugs.
    • Do not call medicine candy.
    • Do not let guests leave drugs where children can find them, such as a pillbox, purse, coat pocket or backpack.

    "We all need to work together, take responsibility and use common sense to protect people from drug poisoning," said Dr. Schneider.  "We see too many people affected by this in our emergency departments.  With all of the information and warnings available to the public, that should not be the case."

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    SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians
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