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Health Indicator Report of Deaths due to Unintentional Poisoning

Every day in the U.S., an average of 160 people die as a result of unintentional poisoning (2016 data) and 4,100 others are treated in emergency departments (2015 data).[ ^1^] Unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2016.[ ^2^]


The Healthy People 2020 objective is for poisoning deaths caused by unintentional or undetermined intent and therefore is not comparable to the HNJ2020 objective. U.S. data shown are for unintentional poisoning only. This is Healthy New Jersey 2020 (HNJ2020) Objective IVP-6.

Data Sources

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Compressed Mortality File. CDC WONDER On-line Database accessed at []
  • Death Certificate Database, Office of Vital Statistics and Registry, New Jersey Department of Health
  • Population Estimates, State Data Center, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, []


Deaths with unintentional poisoning by and exposure to noxious substances as the underlying cause of death. '''''This includes, but is not limited to, opioids and other drugs.'''''[[br]] ICD-10 codes: X40-X49 (includes poisoning by legal and illegal drugs, alcohol, gases and vapors such as carbon monoxide and automobile exhaust, pesticides, and other chemicals and noxious substances)


Number of deaths due to unintentional poisoning


Total number of persons in the population

Healthy People Objective: Prevent an increase in the rate of poisoning deaths: Unintentional or undetermined intent among all persons

U.S. Target: 11.1 deaths per 100,000 population
State Target: is not comparable because it does not include poisoning deaths of undetermined intent

Other Objectives

'''Healthy New Jersey 2020 Objective IVP-6''': Reduce the age-adjusted death rate due to unintentional poisoning to 6.8 in the total population, 8.6 among Whites and Blacks, and 3.1 among Hispanics.

How Are We Doing?

In approximately 94% of unintentional poisoning deaths nationally and 96% in New Jersey, drugs are the poison. This includes unintentional overdose, wrong drug given or taken in error, drug taken inadvertently, and mistakes in the use of drugs in medical and surgical procedures. Not included are cases where the correct drug was properly administered but had an unforeseen adverse effect such as an allergic reaction. There are a handful of alcohol poisoning and carbon monoxide poisoning deaths each year and even fewer due to exposure to other noxious substances. Although death rates due to drug overdose among Blacks and Hispanics rose and fell over the past decade and a half, the death rates for these two groups doubled from 2014 to 2016. The most noticeable rate change prior to 2015 occurred in 2005-2006, due in part to an increase in the availability of high-purity heroin and heroin adulterated with fentanyl. The drug overdose death rate among Whites in 2014, however, was nearly triple the rate in 2000, and rose another 67% just from 2014 to 2016. The increase can be in large part attributed to an increased supply of and demand for heroin, heroin tainted with adulterants (including fentanyl), and an expanded prescription opioid diversion network and substance abuse base, especially among younger populations.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

The unintentional poisoning death rate among New Jersey residents is above that of the U.S. population as a whole.

What Is Being Done?

The [ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services] promotes the prevention and treatment of substance disorders and supports the recovery of individuals affected by the chronic disease of addiction. In 2004, the New Jersey [ Patient Safety Act] (P.L. 2004, c.9) was signed into law. The statute was designed to improve patient safety in hospitals and other health care facilities by establishing a medical error reporting system. The [ Overdose Prevention Act] (P.L. 2013, c.46) was passed in 2013 to provide immunity from liability and professional discipline to health care professionals who prescribe, dispense, or administer naloxone, or any similarly acting drug approved for the treatment of an opioid overdose, in an emergency to an individual who the person believes is experiencing an opioid overdose. The Act also contains Good Samaritan provisions, which provide immunity from arrest and prosecution for drug possession to those non-health professional individuals who call 911 for suspected overdoses, and makes naloxone available to spouses, parents, and guardians who could be taught to administer the drug in case of an emergency. In 2014, the Health Commissioner expanded the scope of practice for Emergency Medical Technicians to allow for the administration of [ naloxone] in cases of life threatening opioid overdoses. Later that spring, the Governor established a pilot program to train and equip police officers to administer naloxone; this program was expanded to every county in the state in June, 2014. A bill expanding the scope of the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP) was signed by the Governor in 2015, and requires all physicians and pharmacists practicing in New Jersey to register for access and mandates physicians to check the NJPMP when patients return for refills on opioid medications. In early 2017, the Governor signed a law ([ P.L. 2017, c.28]) setting a five-day limit on initial prescriptions for opioids (reduced from seven days) and mandating that insurance companies accept those facing drug addiction into treatment for up to six months and without the need for prior coverage authorization. In 2016, NJDOH was awarded a CDC grant for [ Prescription Drug Overdose: Data-Driven Prevention Initiative] (DDPI), and funding will be used to advance and evaluate state-level actions to address opioid misuse, abuse, and overdose. Funds aim to help states improve data collection and analysis around opioid misuse, abuse, and overdose; develop strategies based on data that address the behaviors driving prescription opioid dependence and abuse; and work with communities to develop more comprehensive opioid overdose prevention programs. The New Jersey [ Environmental Public Health Tracking] Program is collecting hospitalization data on unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning to better understand and track the impact of CO poisoning.

Available Services

NJ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services: [] Poison Control: [] or 1-800-222-1222

Health Program Information

The Center for Health Statistics is a central source for injury statistics, including unintentional poisoning. Available data include emergency department data, inpatient hospitalization data, and mortality data: [] NJDOH Patient Safety Reporting System: [] NJDOH Environmental Public Health Tracking Program, Carbon Monoxide: []
Page Content Updated On 03/29/2018, Published on 11/15/2018
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's NJSHAD web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Thu, 29 October 2020 22:37:24 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: ".

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