OBJECTIVES: To analyze the number and trends in calls to the Toxicological Information Center (TIC) concerning pharmaceutical poisoning retrospectively during the past 15 years and to compare selected characteristics of the poisonings.
DESIGN: Inquiries arising from drug poisonings in the years 1997-2012 were extracted and evaluated from the Czech database recording the consultations of TIC specialists. In addition, their cause, severity and dose evaluation (data electronically collected after 2005) were compared in the years 2005-2012 using standard statistical methods.
RESULTS: During 15 years total 152,649 calls due to all types of potentially toxic agents were recorded in the TIC database. Central nervous system (CNS) affecting drugs represented 39.8% of calls due to all pharmaceutical poisonings. The proportion of adults was 72.2% and women comprised 64.4% of all patients. Whereas the number of calls caused by poisoning with tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and barbiturates decreased (by 366.7% and 340%, respectively), the calls due to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepines overdose increased (by 1347.4% and 359.8%). The dose of CNS affecting drugs in 2005-2012 was considered lethal in 14.6% of the inquiries due to barbiturates and 8.6% due to TCAs, but only in 1.6% calls due to SSRIs and 0.5% of benzodiazepines. The highest percentage of medications errors was found during the treatment with barbiturates (16.4%).
CONCLUSIONS: The current drugs prescription with improved safety profiles brings the beneficial effect of lowering the severity of poisonings and better prognosis of intoxications as observed in the TIC statistics.