Objective: To determine the presentation rates for paediatric poisoning by ingestion and the determinants of hospital admission.
Methodology: Cross-sectional survey using an injury surveillance database from emergency departments in South Brisbane, Mackay and Mt Isa, Queensland, from January 1998 to December 1999. There were 1516 children aged 0-14 years who presented following ingestional poisoning.
Results: The presentation rates for poisoning were 690, 40 and 67 per 100000 population aged 0-4, 5-9 and 10-14 years, respectively. The admission rates to hospital for poisoning were 144, 14 and 22 per 100000 population aged 0-4, 5-9 and 10-14 years, respectively. Although presentation rates for poisoning were higher in the rural centres the admission rates were disproportionately high for the 0-4 years age group. The agents most frequently ingested were paracetamol, Dimetapp, rodenticides and essential oils.
Conclusion: There is a need to design and implement interventions aimed at reducing poison exposures and unnecessary hospital admissions in the 0-4 years age group.