J Korean Soc Clin Toxicol.  2018 Dec;16(2):116-123. 10.22537/jksct.2018.16.2.116.

Unintentional Pharmaceutical Poisoning in the Emergency Department

  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Hallym University Dongtan Sacred Heart Hospital, Korea. cuccum@hanmail.net
  • 2Department of Emergency Medicine, Hallym University Graduate School, Korea.


The social environment of easy access to medicines and arbitrary personal decisions leading to overdose aggravate unintentional medicine poisoning. This study aimed to investigate the characteristics of patients who visited emergency departments with unintentional medicine poisoning and reasons for poisoning based on age group.
We retrospectively collected patients who experienced unintentional medicine poisoning based on data from the national injury surveillance system between 2013 and 2016. Subjects were classified into three groups based on age (0-14 years, 15-64 years, and ≥65 years). We identified sex, insurance, time of poisoning, place, alcohol co-ingestion, hospitalization, death, and reason for poisoning in each age group.
A total of 27,472 patients visited an emergency department with poisoning during the study period; 1,958 patients who experienced unintentional poisoning were enrolled in this study. Respiratory medicine was the most frequent medicine in those younger than 15 years of age, and sedatives and antipsychotic drugs were the most common in patients older than 15 years of age. In total, 35.1% of patients older than 65 years were hospitalized. The most common reasons for poisoning were careless storage of medicine in those younger than 15 years of age and overdose due to arbitrary decisions in those older than 15 years of age.
Unintentional medicine poisoning has distinct characteristics based on age group, and strategies to prevent poisoning should be approached differently based on age.


Poisoning; Accidents; Drug overdose
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