Poisoning in older adults: A 5-year experience of us poison control centers

Barbara Insley Crouch, E. Martin Caravati, Alice Mitchell, Andrew C. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

14 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Poisoning in older adults has received relatively little attention. OBJECTIVE: To describe poison exposures in older adults reported to US poison centers and identify substances that pose a unique risk to this population. METHODS: A retrospective review of human exposures for patients aged ≥60 years reported to the American Association of Poison Control Center's Toxic Exposure Surveillance System from 1993 to 1997 was performed. Frequencies and cross-tabulations were used to describe the data. Hazard factor analysis was conducted to identify medications that pose risk in this population. Statistical analysis included χ 2 and Fisher's exact test for hazard factors. RESULTS: A total of 298 713 poison exposure cases were reported to US poison centers involving individuals aged ≥60 years between 1993 and 1997. The proportion of cases in this age group also steadily increased from 2.5% of all cases in 1993 to 3.4% of all cases in 1997. The mean age of the patients was 64.7 years, and 34.1% were males. Hazard factor analysis was conducted on unintentional exposures and adverse reactions to pharmaceutical agents to determine medications that posed increased risk to older adults. The substance categories that had the highest hazard factor were radiopharmaceuticals, asthma therapies, anticoagulants, anesthetics, and antidepressants. CONCLUSIONS: Therapeutic errors and adverse reactions to medications are common reasons for major effects and fatal outcomes among older adults reported to poison centers. Understanding poisoning issues specific to this population may help direct future outreach education efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2005-2011
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Elderly
  • Poison control centers
  • Poisoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)

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