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Nearly 300,000 Americans Are Hospitalized Every Year for Medication Poisoning; Half Are Suicides or Suicide Attempts

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: August 16, 2005

According to the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 280,000 Americans were admitted to U.S. hospitals for poisoning by medications in 2003.

  • Half of those admitted for poisoning by medications in 2003—roughly 143,000 cases—involved persons who took medications to commit suicide and died after being admitted or who attempted suicide but survived.
  • Among patients poisoned by medications, 106,000 were hospitalized for psychiatric drug poisoning and 63 percent of these (over 67,000) were suicide or suicide attempts.
  • The remaining 176,000 patients were hospitalized for poisoning with non-psychiatric medicines; 38 percent of these were suicide or suicide attempts (about 66,000).
  • The national bill for treating patients for drug poisoning totaled nearly $3.7 billion in 2003. This figure reflects charges for the hospital stays of patients with any diagnosis of poisoning by medications.


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