Aims: Despite the excess mortality and morbidity associated with acute poisoning by substances of abuse, follow-up is frequently not organised. We assessed morbidity, including repeated poisoning, and follow-up after acute poisoning by substances of abuse through charting contacts with health services. We also charted short-term mortality.
Methods: Patients 12 years and older treated for acute poisoning by substances of abuse at a primary care emergency outpatient clinic in Oslo, Norway, were included consecutively from October 2011 through September 2012. We retrieved information from national registers on fatalities, hospital admissions, and contacts at outpatient specialist health services and with general practitioners (GPs), during the 90 days following a poisoning episode.
Results: We included 1731 patients treated for 2343 poisoning episodes. During the 90 days following the poisoning, 31% of the patients were treated at somatic hospitals, 9% admitted to psychiatric hospitals, 37% in treatment at outpatient psychiatric/addiction specialist health services, 55% saw their GP, while 34% had no follow-up. The short-term mortality rate was 2.0%, eight times higher than expected. Increasing age, suicidal intention, opioid poisoning, and severe mental illness were associated with increased risk of death. Increasing age, male gender, opioid poisoning, and severe mental illness were associated with repeated poisoning. Patients with increased risk of repeated poisoning were more likely to be in follow-up at outpatient specialist psychiatric/addiction services and in contact with their GP.
Conclusions: Follow-up measures seem targeted to those most in need, though one out of three had none. The mortality rate calls for concern.