Background: This is the 26th Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC; http://www. aapcc.org ) National Poison Data System (NPDS). During 2008, 60 of the nation's 61 US poison centers uploaded case data automatically. The median upload time was 24 [7.2, 112] (median [25%, 75%]) minutes creating a real-time national exposure and information database and surveillance system.
Methodology: We analyzed the case data tabulating specific indices from NPDS. The methodology was similar to that of previous years. Where changes were introduced, the differences are identified. Poison center cases with medical outcomes of death were evaluated by a team of 28 medical and clinical toxicologist reviewers using an ordinal scale of 1-6 to determine Relative Contribution to Fatality (RCF) from the exposure to the death.
Results: In 2008, 4,333,012 calls were captured by NPDS: 2,491,049 closed human exposure cases, 130,495 animal exposures, 1,703,762 information calls, 7,336 human confirmed nonexposures, and 370 animal confirmed nonexposures. The top five substances most frequently involved in all human exposures were analgesics (13.3%), cosmetics/personal care products (9.0%), household cleaning substances (8.6%), sedatives/hypnotics/antipsychotics (6.6%), and foreign bodies/toys/miscellaneous (5.2%). The top five most common exposures in children age 5 or less were cosmetics/personal care products (13.5%), analgesics (9.7%), household cleaning substances (9.7%), foreign bodies/toys/miscellaneous (7.5%), and topical preparations (6.9%). Drug identification requests comprised 66.8% of all information calls. NPDS documented 1,756 human exposures resulting in death with 1,315 human fatalities deemed related with an RCF of at least contributory (1, 2, or 3).
Conclusions: Poisoning continues to be a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the US. The near real-time, always current status of NPDS represents a national resource to collect and monitor US poisoning exposure cases and information calls. NPDS continues its mission as one of the few real-time national surveillance systems in existence, providing a model public health surveillance system for all types of exposures, public health event identification, resilience response and situational awareness tracking.