Resource Utilization in Emergency Department Patients with Known or Suspected Poisoning

Stephen J. Traub, Soroush Saghafian, Matthew R. Buras, M. Hamed Temkit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Previous work has shown poisoning-related emergency department (ED) visits are increasing, and these visits are resource-intensive. Little is known, however, about how resource utilization for patients with known or suspected poisoning differs from that of general ED patients. Methods: We reviewed 4 years of operational data at a single ED. We identified visits due to known or suspected poisoning (index cases), and paired them with time-matched controls. In the primary analysis, we compared the groups with respect to a broad array of resource utilization characteristics. In a secondary analysis, we performed the same comparison after excluding patients ultimately transferred to a psychiatric facility. Results: There were 405 index cases and 802 controls in the primary analysis, and 374 index cases and 741 controls in the secondary analysis. In the primary/secondary analyses, patients with known or suspected poisoning had longer ED lengths of stay in minutes (370 vs. 232/295 vs. 234), higher rates of laboratory results per patient (40.4 vs. 26.8/39.6 vs. 26.8), greater administration of intravenous medications and fluids per patient (2.0 vs. 1.6/2.1 vs. 1.6), higher rates of transfer to a psychiatric facility (7.7 vs. 0.2%/not applicable), and higher rates of both admission (40.2 vs. 32.8/43.6 vs. 33.1%) and admission to an advanced care bed (21.5 vs. 7.6/23.3 vs. 7.8%). Patients with known or suspected poisoning had lower rates of imaging per patient, for both plain radiographs (0.4 vs. 0.5/0.4 vs. 0.5) and advanced imaging studies (0.3 vs. 0.5/0.4 vs. 0.5). Conclusions: ED patients with known or suspected poisoning are more resource intensive than general ED patients. These results may have implications for both resource allocation (particularly for departments that might see a high volume of such patients) and ED operations management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-244
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Toxicology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Emergency department
  • Poisoning
  • Resource utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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