Poisoning and poisoning advice: availability, toxico-vigilance and research

Geoffrey K Isbister
Med J Aust 2018; 209 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/mja18.00523
Published online: 16 July 2018

Poisons Information Centres provide health services and the general public across Australia with the most up-to-date advice available

The study by Huynh and colleagues1 underlines the importance of Poisons Information Centres (PICs) for mapping the epidemiology of poisoning in Australia. The authors report that more than 200 000 calls were made to the national PIC network during 2015. Most exposures were of adults under 74 (40%) or toddlers (36%). Prescription medications were more frequently implicated in exposures in adults (mainly antidepressants, sedatives and antipsychotics) than in children of any age; about half the exposures of Australians over 74 involved prescription medications. These data confirm that the substance or toxin ingested is usually the most readily available, whether household cleaners or over-the-counter medications in unintentional poisonings of children, or prescription medications in deliberate self-poisonings or medication errors in adults.

  • Geoffrey K Isbister1,2

  • 1 Clinical Toxicology Research Group, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW
  • 2 Calvary Mater Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW



Geoffrey Isbister is a National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellow in clinical toxicology.

Competing interests:

Geoffrey Isbister is a visiting medical officer contracted to the NSW Poisons Information Centre as a consultant clinical toxicologist. He is currently a co-investigator on NHMRC grants with Andrew Dawson and Nicolas Buckley, but was not aware of the study reported in this issue (Reference 1) until invited to contribute this Editorial, and was blinded to its authors until the Editorial was finalised for publication.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Online responses are no longer available. Please refer to our instructions for authors page for more information.