Acute poisoning is a significant health problem all over the world. In Malaysia, nationwide data on poisoning pattern is scarce and incomplete. The objectives of our study were to determine the pattern of acute drug and chemical poisoning at Penang General Hospital (PGH), in the northern region of Malaysia, and to compare poisoning characteristics between different ethnic groups. The study was a retrospective case review of all poisoned patients admitted to PGH during the years 2000-2002. We collected data concerning demographic parameters of patients, information about the agent(s) implicated, and circumstances surrounding the event. There were 493 poisoning incidents. Nearly two-thirds of the poisoned cases involved female patients. The predominant mode of poisoning was intentional (51.5%). The age group 15.1-30 years ranked at the top, constituting 55.2% of all cases. Drugs were the predominant agents implicated. Among cases associated with drugs, paracetamol was the main causative agent (44.7%). Chinese patients constituted 37.7% of all poisoning cases, followed by the Indians (31.6%) and Malays (26.6%). Between ethnic groups, Indian patients were found to have the highest rate of poisoning admission of 75.2 per 100,000 persons.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.