Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2021. Injury in Australia: accidental poisoning. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 20 April 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/accidental-poisoning
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Injury in Australia: accidental poisoning. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/accidental-poisoning
Injury in Australia: accidental poisoning. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 10 March 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/accidental-poisoning
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Injury in Australia: accidental poisoning [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021 [cited 2021 Apr. 20]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/accidental-poisoning
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, Injury in Australia: accidental poisoning, viewed 20 April 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/accidental-poisoning
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Accidental poisoning is caused by exposure to an amount of a substance that harms the body. This causes thousands of hospitalisation and deaths in Australia each year, mainly involving pharmaceutical drugs or, to a lesser extent, other substances, such as alcohol and chemicals. The terms ‘pharmaceutical drugs’ and ‘pharmaceuticals’ as used in this report include both drugs prescribed by a health practitioner or obtained by other means, including illegally.
In 2017–18, 2.0% of hospitalised injury cases and 11% of injury deaths were due to accidental poisoning.
Hospitalisation cases and deaths involving intentional poisoning are included under Self-harm injuries and suicide and Assault and homicide.
In 2017–18, accidental poisoning resulted in:
10,804 hospitalisation cases
44 per 100,000 population
5.5 per 100,000 population
This article only includes data on injuries that result in hospital admission or death. If a person dies from an injury after being admitted to hospital, both the hospitalisation and the death is included in this report. For more information, see Defining injury hospitalisation cases and injury deaths.
Type of pharmaceutical
Rate (per 100,000)
Antiepileptic, sedative-hypnotic, antiparkinsonism and psychotropic drugs not elsewhere classified (includes benzodiazapines and psychostimulants with potential for use disorder, such as amphetamines) (X41)
Other and unspecified drugs, medicaments and biological substances (includes hormones and their synthetic substitutes and antagonists, not elsewhere classified, such as insulin) (X44)
Narcotics and psychodysleptics (hallucinogens), not elsewhere classified (includes opioids such as codeine, morphine and heroin) (X42)
Non-opioid analgesics, antipyretics and antirheumatic drugs (includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (X40)
Other drugs acting on the autonomic nervous system (X43)
Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.
Type of non-pharmaceutical substance
Other gases and vapours (not included in X46 below), such as exhaust fumes and carbon monoxide (X47)
Organic solvents and halogenated hydrocarbons and their vapours (X46)
Other and unspecified chemicals and noxious substances (X49)
For more detailed data, see Data tables B5–8.
Since 2008–09, there has been:
Annual average rate changes are calculated using modelled age-standardised rates (see Technical notes for more details).
Because of changes in data collection methods, hospitalisations data for 2017–18 should not be compared with those of previous years and are not included in Figure 1 (see Technical notes for more details). Death data for 2017–18 are comparable with rates for previous years.
The visualisation features 2 matching line graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisation cases and 1 for deaths. The 3 lines represent the trend for males, females and persons from 2008–09 to 2016–17 for hospitalisation cases and to 2017–18 for deaths. The reader can select to display rate per 100,000 population or number, and can select by life-stage age group including all ages.
For more detailed data, see Data tables C1–4 and E1–4.
Accidental poisoning injury hospitalisation rates were similar for males and females, but male deaths were twice the rate of female deaths. Age patterns were also markedly different between hospitalisation cases and deaths (Figure 2).
The visualisation features 2 matching column graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisation cases and 1 for deaths. The columns represent sex within 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display either age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The default displays male and female and the reader can also select to display persons.
For more detailed data, see Data tables A1–3 and D1–3.
Three measures that may indicate the severity of a hospitalised injury are length of stay, percentage of cases with time in an intensive care unit (ICU), and percentage of cases involving continuous ventilator support.
The average duration of a hospital stay for injuries due to accidental poisoning was shorter than the average for all injury hospitalisations, but the percentages of cases that included either time in an ICU or on continuous ventilator support were higher than for all hospitalised injuries (Table 3).
Accidental poisoning injury
All hospitalised injuries
Average number of days in hospital
% of cases with time in an ICU
% of cases involving continuous ventilator support
Note: Average number of days in hospital (length of stay) includes admissions that are transfers from 1 hospital to another or transfers from 1 admitted care type to another within the same hospital, except where care involves rehabilitation procedures.
In 2017–18, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
Rate (per 100,000)
Note: Rates are crude per 100,000 population.
In 2017–18, Indigenous Australians, compared with non-Indigenous Australians, after adjusting for differences in population age structure, were:
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database.
The age-specific rate of accidental poisoning injury hospitalisation cases was highest among the 0–4 life-stage age group for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (Figure 3). Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.
Column graph representing hospitalisation data for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.
For more detailed data, see Data tables A4–A6 and D4–D8.
In 2017–18, people living in Remote areas had the highest rate of hospitalisation by accidental poisoning and people living in Major Cities had the lowest rate. People living in Remote areas, using age-standardised rates, were 1.6 times as likely to be hospitalised due to poisoning as those living in Major cities (Table 8).
People living in Inner regional areas had the highest rate of death by accidental poisoning and people living in Major cities were least likely to die due to poisoning. People living in Inner regional areas were 1.3 times as likely to die due to poisoning as those living in Major cities (Table 9).
n.p. not publishable because of small numbers, confidentiality or other concerns about the quality of the data.
Note: Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.
The highest age-specific rate of accidental poisoning injury hospitalisation cases was among the 0–4 life-stage age group living in Remote areas of Australia. (Figure 4).
Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.
Column graph representing hospitalisation data for each of the 5 remoteness categories by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.
For more detailed data, see Data tables A7–A9 and D9–10.
For information on how statistics by remoteness are calculated, see Technical notes.
Technical notes—read about how the data were calculated.
Data tables—download full data tables.
ACCD (Australian Consortium for Classification Development) 2017. The international statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision, Australian modification (ICD-10-AM), 10th edn. Tabular list of diseases and alphabetic index of diseases. Adelaide: Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA), Lane Publishing.
The following list includes AIHW publications from recent years that include information on accidental poisoning. See Reports for any older publications that may exist.
Research provided by Flinders University
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