September 22, 2011

The statistics are sobering: every day of the year, almost 82 people die in the United States from unintentional poisoning, including those who overdosed on recreational drugs. (“Unintentional” means that the people taking or giving the substance did not intend to cause harm to themselves or others, including those who used drugs or other chemicals in excessive amounts for recreational purposes.) The deaths from unintentional poisoning have been rising since 1992. In addition to those who die, 1,941 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for unintentional poisoning every day in the United States.

Unintentional poisoning was the second leading cause of death for all age groups in the United States in 2007, just behind motor vehicle deaths. There were more deaths caused by unintentional poisoning than for motor vehicle accidents for the age group 35 to 54.

About 71,000 children 18 and under were brought to hospital emergency departments between 2004 and 2005 due to medication posioning (most common were for children less than 6 years old). Often (over 80%) the children were unsupervised at the time they consumed the medications. Unintentional poisoning of children due to medications was twice as high as unintentional poisoning due to household products.

In 2009, there were approximately 708,318 visits to hospital emergency departments due to unintentional poisoning, of which 22% (156,613) required admission into the hospital or transfer to another medical facility.

The most common cause of unintentional poisoning deaths were drugs (93% in 2007). The most common drugs subject to unintentional poisoning were methadone, hydrocodone, oxycodone, cocaine, and heroin.

The statistics for 2007 show that men were twice as likely to die from unintentional poisoning than women. The highest death rate was for Native Americans, followed by Caucasians and then by African-Americans. The peak age group for deaths due to unintentional poisoning was 45 to 49.

The statistics for 2009 show that men were 1.6 times more likely than women to be treated in hospital emergency departments for unintentional poisonings. Once again, the peak age group was 45 to 49.

The above statistics regarding emergency department visits (and deaths) due to unintentional poisoning should not be considered to represent the extent of the problem: in 2008, poison control centers throughout the United States received calls for 2.5 million cases of human poisoning exposure.


Sometimes the unintentional poisoning of adults and children occur in the hospital setting. Sometimes the wrong drugs or the wrong dosage of drugs are given to unsuspecting patients, both in the emergency department and in the inpatient setting, causing serious injuries and even death.

If you or a loved one were injured in a hospital emergency department or as an inpatient in a hospital because you were given the wrong drug or the wrong dose of a drug, you may be entitled to compensation. Visit our website to be connected with medial malpractice lawyers in your area who may be able to assist you with your claim. You may also reach us toll free at 800-295-3959.

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