When most people think of poisonings they think of a little kid getting into cleaning products stored under the kitchen sink. These poisonings happen a lot, but so do poisonings from adults taking too much medication.
In fact, medications are the leading cause of poisonings—regardless of how old you are. The number of people dying from medication-related poisonings has been increasing in recent years. The bulk of these deaths occurred among adults and were caused by prescription drugs.
Prescription painkillers account for nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses. In 2008, the US Centers for Disease Control determined there were 14,800 prescription painkiller deaths. But these deaths were just the tip of the iceberg. There were more than 475,000 visits to the emergency department related to prescription painkillers, and more than 12 million people reported using painkillers in a way other than prescribed by a doctor.
Many things are being done nationally and locally to address this growing problem. To learn about what emergency rooms and emergency doctors are doing, read tomorrow’s Q & A with NNEPC Medical Director Dr. Tamas Peredy.