Half of the Poisonings in Israel Involve Children, Report Says

About half of the total poisoning cases were a result of excessive medicine dosages.

Some 30,000 poisoning incidents occurred in Israel in 2011, most of them at home and more than half of them involving children, a report released Monday by the Health Ministry's Poison Information Center reveals.

The poison center, located at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, said there were 30,137 poisonings last year, 3.8 percent more than in 2009 (there was no report in 2010). Since 1995 the number of reported poisoning incidents has increased by 146 percent.

Most 2011 poisonings took place at home (76.7 percent), others took place outdoors, often in nature (4.3 percent), at work (1.6 percent), in a medical facility (0.7 percent), at school or kindergarten (0.6 percent), and in the army (0.5 percent). There is no available information on other venues of occurrences. Almost a tenth - 8.5 percent - of the reported incidents were deliberate.

About half of the poisoning cases were a result of excessive medicine dosages (51.3 percent). The remaining incidents consisted of chemicals (37.4 percent), poisonous plants and animals (5.1 percent), and unknown causes.

Three people died from poisoning cases reported in 2011, while 176 suffered serious injury and 692 suffered moderate injury; 8,384 were lightly injured. The others either exhibited no effects or information is not available about the extent of their injuries.

The number of poisonings reported by hospital doctors increased by only 1.4 percent compared to 2009. However, the number of people reporting poisonings increased by 6.2 percent.

In many cases, people were advised by their doctors to file a complaint to the center themselves. The apparent reason for that is because doctors who report poisoning cases are required to pay a fee to the center. Thus, the report submitted to the Health Ministry by center director Prof. Yedidia Bentur recommends revoking the consultation fees the center charges from medical bodies. Instead, Bentur recommends that the center finds other funding sources.