Emergency Department Visits for Drug Poisoning: United States, 2008–2011

April 9, 2015

Poisoning is the leading cause of injury-related mortality in the United States, with more than 40,000 deaths annually. Drugs account for 90% of poisoning deaths, and the number of deaths from drug poisoning has increased substantially in recent years. The emergency department (ED) plays an important role in the treatment of poisoning.

A new NCHS report describes nationally representative data on ED visits for drug poisoning during 2008–2011.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • During 2008–2011, an average of 1.1 million emergency department (ED) visits were made each year for drug poisoning, with a visit rate of 35.4 per 10,000 persons.
  • The ED visit rate for drug poisoning was highest among persons aged 20–34. The rate declined with age after 20–34, and rates for those aged 0–19 were similar to those aged 50 and over.
  • Drug-poisoning ED visit rates did not differ by sex and age, with the exception of persons aged 35–49, where females had a higher visit rate than males. The ED visit rate for unintentional drug poisoning was higher than self-inflicted drug poisoning overall and for males, but did not differ for females.
  • About one-quarter (24.5%) of drug-poisoning ED visits resulted in hospital admission.

Emergency Department Visits and Proximity to Patients’ Residences, 2009–2010

March 19, 2015

The number of emergency department (ED) visits rose 44% from 1991 through 2010, even as the number of hospital EDs declined 10% over the same period.

As a result, EDs have increasingly experienced overcrowding and longer waiting times. Using data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, a new NCHS report provides how often patients go to the ED closest to their home, and how differences in geography, patient demographics, and hospital characteristics are associated with ED selection patterns.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • In 2009–2010, visits to emergency departments (EDs) occurred an average 6.8 miles from the patient’s residence, while the nearest ED was 3.9 miles from the home.
  • Less than one-half of all ED visits (43.8%) occurred at the ED closest to where the patient lived.
  • Visits within metropolitan statistical areas were less likely (37.2%) to take place at the closest ED compared with visits outside of metropolitan statistical areas (70.1%).
  • Within metropolitan statistical areas, visits that did not take place at the closest ED occurred more frequently among younger patients, at larger hospitals, and in EDs with longer waiting times, compared with visits to the closest ED.