When you think of the leading cause of deaths related to injuries, the first thing many people will think of is car crashes. While automobile crashes can be deadly—especially when drugs and alcohol are involved—the leading cause of injury-related deaths in Arizona is poisonings.  A new report we recently released shows that there were 1,144 deaths due to poisoning in 2011- accounting for 25% of all the injury-related deaths in the state. 

Poisoning also caused more than 6,900 hospitalizations and more than 12,500 ER visits in 2011. In addition to the human toll these deaths and hospitalizations have on Arizona families, poisonings also carry a financial burden. According to the report, hospital charges for non-fatal poisoning-related inpatient hospitalizations totaled more than $127M and Arizona residents spent a total of 13,822 days hospitalized for these injuries. 

It’s no surprise that the leading cause for poisoning deaths in the state come from easily accessible things like alcohol and prescription drugs. The report shows that the most common causes of poisoning deaths were alcohol, Oxycodone or Hydrocodone, and heroin. At least these deaths are preventable- and we’re working together with our partners in the community to reduce these deaths. 

One project we’re working on is the new Arizona Prescribing Guidelines for Emergency Rooms. The guidelines were developed with several community partners and are intended help ERs establish standard practices for prescribing pain medication. Pain medication is an important tool when it used for medical treatment, but it’s deadly when abused. The guidelines will help medical providers reduce the amount of pain medication in the community, and reduce the access to these drugs to people who may abuse them and suffer from an accidental poisonings.