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Children in the United States Make Close to 200,000 Emergency Department Visits Due to Poisoning Each Year

Nalliah, Romesh P. BDS*; Anderson, Ingrid M. MD; Lee, Min Kyeong DMD; Rampa, Sankeerth MBA§; Allareddy, Veerasathpurush BDS, MBA, MHA, PhD, MMSc; Allareddy, Veerajalandhar MD, MBA, FAAP, FACP

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000000160
Original Articles

Objective The aim of this study was to provide nationally representative hospital-based emergency department (ED) estimate visits in children (aged ≤ 18 y) attributed to poisoning in the United States in 2008.

Methods Nationwide Emergency Department Sample for the year 2008 was used. All ED visits among children (aged ≤ 18 y) with an external cause of injury for “poisoning” were selected for analysis. Demographic characteristics of the ED visits and outcomes examined included ED charges (EDCs), hospitalization charges (HCs), length of stay in hospital, and disposition after ED visit.

Results During the year 2008, a total of 191,197 ED visits were attributed to poisoning with close to 56% of all ED visits occurring among those aged younger than 4 years. Boys comprised approximately 54% of all ED visits. After an ED visit, 87% were routinely discharged, and 7.3% were admitted into the same hospital. Forty-eight children died in the ED. The frequently reported poisonings included accidental poisoning by other drugs (44,219 ED visits); accidental poisoning by other gases and vapors (27,035 ED visits); and accidental poisoning by analgesics, antipyretics, and antirheumatics (22,334 ED visits). The mean EDC per visit was $1077. The total EDC across the entire United States was $171.8 million. Mean length of stay was 1.9 days. Among those who were hospitalized, the mean HC was $11,792. The total HC across the entire United States was $162.3 million.

Conclusions The current study provides nationally representative estimates of ED visits attributed to poisoning among children in the United States. High-risk groups and economics associated with treating these injuries are estimated.

From the *Office of Dental Education, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA; †Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH; ‡Department of Developmental Biology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA; §College of Public Health, Texas A and M University, College Station, TX; and ∥Department of Dentistry, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Veerajalandhar Allareddy, MD, MBA, FAAP, FACP, Department of Pediatric Critical Care, Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, 11100 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44107 (e-mail:

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.