BMJ Open 2:e001857 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001857
  • Epidemiology
    • Research

Comparison of emergency hospital admissions for drug poisoning and major diseases: a retrospective observational study using a nationwide administrative discharge database

  1. Hiroto Ito1
  1. 1Department of Social Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Kodaira, Tokyo, Japan
  2. 2Research Department, Institute for Health Economics and Policy, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
  3. 3Statistics and Cancer Control Division, National Cancer Center, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
  4. 4Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan
  5. 5Department of Health Policy and Informatics, Tokyo Medical and Dental University Graduate School of Medicine, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yasuyuki Okumura; yokumura{at}
  • Received 25 July 2012
  • Revised 6 November 2012
  • Accepted 13 November 2012
  • Published 5 December 2012


Objective To compare the clinical and procedural characteristics of emergency hospital admissions for drug poisoning and major diseases.

Design Retrospective observational study.

Setting Discharged patients from 855 acute care hospitals from 1 July to 31 December in 2008 in Japan.

Results There were a total of 1 157 893 emergency hospital admissions. Among the top 100 causes, drug poisoning was ranked higher in terms of the percentage of patients using ambulance services (74.1%; second) and tertiary emergency medical services (37.8%; first). Despite higher utilisation of emergency care resources, drug poisoning ranked lower in terms of the median length of stay (2 days; 100th), percentage of requirement for surgical procedures (1.7%; 91st) and inhospital mortality ratio (0.3%; 74th).

Conclusions Drug poisoning is unique among the top 100 causes of emergency admissions. Our findings suggest that drug poisoning imposes a greater burden on emergency care resources but has a less severe clinical course than other causes of admissions. Future research should focus on strategies to reduce the burden of drug poisoning on emergency medical systems.

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