Objectives: The aim of the presented study was to trace the trends and characteristics of acute poisonings in Poland, including the rate, type, and causal agents, over a long period of time (1970-2000) to define the dynamics of changes and major causes of poisoning-related mortality.
Materials and methods: The analysis was based on the data obtained from the patients' records submitted by all poison centers in Poland (Gdańsk, Kraków, Lublin, Łódź, Poznań, Sosnowiec, Rzeszów, Warszawa, and Wroclaw).
Results: Drugs were the most frequent group of chemical substances, responsible for more than 50% of all admissions because of acute poisonings. From 1980, the rate of drug poisonings showed a slightly downward trend from 56.4% in 1980 to 48.8% in 2000. Ranked second with respect to the prevalence rate were alcohol poisonings. A clear upward trend from 8.0% in 1980 to as high as 30.8% in 2000 was noted in this category. Poisonings with carbon monoxide became less frequent, ranging from 15.3 to 5.1%, respectively in the aforesaid years. The percentage of poisonings with pesticides, corrosives and metal compounds have been reduced in recent years. The greatest number of lethal outcomes was also due to poisonings with alcohols and drugs. The highest mortality ratio was recorded for ethylene glycol, methanol and Amanita phalloides poisonings.
Conclusions: A constantly growing number of acute poisonings in Poland makes it necessary for all the medical and other professionals involved (clinical toxicologists, diagnostic laboratory staff, and poison information specialists) to enhance and coordinate their efforts. These activities should be focused on: (a) better and faster accessibility of all information on the agent of poisoning, possible health effects, and methods of treatment to support the medical staff; (b) selection of the most effective methods to eliminate poisons from the system and improve further therapy, and (c) better accessibility of antidotes.