Factors Associated with Healthcare Visits by Young Children for Nontoxic Poisoning Exposures
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Poison control centers have been shown to be a cost-effective alternative to healthcare visits for poisoning exposures, yet emergency departments (ED) and urgent care centers (UCC) continue to be frequently accessed for poisoning exposures in young children. We sought to identify predictors of young children who obtain healthcare for a nontoxic poisoning exposure. Poisoning exposure cases for children ≤5 years old who sought ED, UCC, or clinic care between 2001 and 2005 from an urban regional pediatric hospital system were identified from poisoning ICD-9 codes in the hospital administrative data and from a poisoning designation in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) data. Cases (n = 2,494) were reviewed and categorized as either toxic or nontoxic. Toxic exposures were those with more than minimal potential for clinical effects. Most cases were between 1 and 2 years old, male, White, enrolled in Medicaid, sought ED care, had no referring physician, and brought to the facility by a parent/guardian. Logistic regression analysis revealed that the odds of seeking healthcare for a nontoxic poisoning exposure were significantly greater if the child was African American, enrolled in Medicaid, had a non-medication related poisoning, and was brought to the healthcare site by a parent/guardian. Healthcare costs and unnecessary use of healthcare resources for nontoxic poisoning exposures could be reduced by educating parents and providers of children at high risk for inappropriate healthcare visits for nontoxic poisonings to initially contact the poison control center (1-800-222-1222).