Health surveys may underestimate the number of poisonings in the United States by 60 percent to 90 percent, according to a report in the journal Clinical Toxicology by Dr. Lee Friedman, associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences in the UIC School of Public Health, and co-author of the study.
As of 2009, poisonings became the leading cause of fatal injury in the U.S., surpassing transportation-related deaths and gun-related deaths.
Dr. Friedman and researchers analyzed hospital billing records, patient demographics, exposure information, and outcomes for Illinois hospital visits related to poisonings in 2010. They also looked at poisoning incidence data from four prominent national health surveys: the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the National Health Interview Survey, the National Hospital Discharge Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.
They found that charges for hospital visits in 2010 in Illinois approached $8 billion, representing 425,491 cases, with alcohol and illicit drugs accounting for the majority of visits. About half of patients were seen as outpatients in emergency rooms.
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