Background Poisoning is the leading cause of injury mortality in the USA, the tenth leading cause of nonfatal injuries seen in emergency departments and a rising concern for public health. The purpose of the Safe State's Alliance's Poison Injury Surveillance Workgroup (ISW) was to promote improved surveillance around poisoning in the USA with an emphasis on drug poisonings.
Methods The ISW was convened by the US Safe States Alliance and composed of approximately 15 expert members from private, state, federal, and national organisations. The workgroup met from mid 2009 to early 2012, primarily via teleconference, to develop consensus based recommendations for the surveillance of poisonings.
Results/Outcomes The workgroup developed conceptual definitions of poisoning and drug poisoning and recommendations for improving poison surveillance in the US at the national, state and local levels.
Significance Gaps in the surveillance of poisonings have been recognised which have impacted poisoning prevention and evaluation efforts. Historically, tracking of fatal and nonfatal poisonings has often been limited to the use of ICD external-cause-of-injury codes and exposure data from poison control centres. The long-term goal of the surveillance recommendations is to standardise definitions and practices among groups working to address unintentional poisonings, especially poisonings that are drug-related and provide a standard method for public health officials to understand the magnitude of the problem in their jurisdiction. This information can then be used for improved intervention planning and evaluation.
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