Background: The Israel Poison Information Center (IPIC), Rambam Health Care Campus, provides 24-hour telephone consultations on clinical toxicology and drug and reproductive toxicology. It participates in research, teaching and regulatory activities, and provides laboratory services. In 2014, nurse specialists in poison information joined the IPIC.
Objectives: To report the epidemiology of poison exposures in Israel.
Methods: We present computerized queries and a descriptive analysis of the medical records database of the IPIC for 2017.
Results: A total of 39,928 poison exposure cases were recorded, reflecting increases of 226.3% and 26.7% compared with 1995 and 2012, respectively. Children < 6 years of age were involved in 47.0% of cases; 80.4% of calls were made by the public and 17.8% by physicians; 74.2% of exposures were unintentional and 7.3% intentional. Pharmaceuticals were involved in 51.4% of cases, chemicals in 36.9%, bites and stings in 2.2%, and plants and mushrooms in 1.5%. Substances most frequently involved were analgesics, cleaning products, and antimicrobials. Clinical severity was moderate/major in 3.3%, mainly due to insecticides, drugs of abuse, and corrosives. Three fatalities were recorded (due to colchicine, organophosphates, and volatile substance inhalant abuse).
Conclusions: Poison exposures and poisonings have markedly increased in Israel, contributing substantially to morbidity. The IPIC prevented unnecessary referrals to emergency departments. Its database is a valuable national resource for collecting and monitoring poisoning exposure cases. It can be used as a real-time surveillance system for the benefit of public health. It is recommended that reporting to the IPIC become mandatory, and its activities adequately supported by national resources.