Poisonings requiring admission to the pediatric intensive care unit: A 5-year review

K. M. Even, C. C. Armsby, S. T. Bateman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background. Poisonings represent a significant number of preventable admissions to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), but data about poisonings requiring PICU-level care are limited. Objectives. To identify the demographics of patients admitted with poisonings and characterize their clinical courses related to their poisoning. Methods. All poisonings over a 5-year period (2008-2012) at an academic medical center in New England were retrospectively reviewed using electronic medical records in an observational case series. Poisonings were identified using key search terms within an admissions database. Results. There were 273 admissions for poisonings, which represent 8% of total PICU admissions over this time period. The poisonings were unintentional in 148 (54%) cases and intentional in 125 (46%). The vast majority of poisonings occurred in patients either 3 years or below (N = 121, 44%) or 13 years or above (N = 124, 45%). Most (96%) admissions were for less than 48 h and 41% were for less than 24 h. Mean PICU length of stay was 1.2 + 0.7 days. A total of 468 substances were ingested in 54 different drug classes, with analgesics and antidepressants being the most common. Eighty-five (31%) poisonings were polypharmaceutical. The most commonly used therapies were naloxone, activated charcoal, and benzodiazepines. Twenty-seven patients (10%) received mechanical ventilation. There was one fatality, an adolescent with a polypharmacy overdose in a suicide attempt. Conclusion. Pediatric poisonings are a significant percentage of admissions to the PICU. The majority of poisonings are non-fatal, require supportive care, close monitoring, and some specific treatment. Drug classes causing poisonings have changed to a higher percentage of opioids in younger patients and atypical antidepressants in adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-524
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Toxicology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology


Dive into the research topics of 'Poisonings requiring admission to the pediatric intensive care unit: A 5-year review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this