Let’s reduce drug-related conditions, poisonings among Soldiers
Army Public Health Center experts say poisonings are a leading cause of injury hospitalizations among Soldiers, accounting for 6,800 injuries among active-duty Soldiers in 2020. Increased awareness can help reduce these numbers. (U.S. Army photo illustration by Graham Snodgrass) (Photo Credit: Graham Snodgrass) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – For this year’s National Poison Prevention Awareness Week, observed March 20-26, 2022, the Army Public Health Center encourages awareness of the poisonings that occur every day to members of the Army family. While many are familiar with the problem of poisonings among children, poisonings are actually a leading cause of injury hospitalizations among Soldiers.

“The majority of Soldiers’ injuries are treated through outpatient medical services,” says Dr. Anna Renner, an APHC injury health analyst and statistician. “But some poisonings, like overdoses of medications, over-the counter medications, and illegal substances, tend to be more serious and are more likely to require inpatient care.”

Surveillance of Soldier’s medical records identifies codes for drug-related injuries, which can include both accidental as well as possible intentional poisonings. In addition to conditions caused by ingestion and injection of drugs or medications, poisonings include adverse medical conditions caused by skin or eye contact, ingestion, and inhalation exposures to chemicals or toxins.

“Poisonings accounted for 6,800 injuries among active-duty Soldiers in 2020,” says Renner. “About 10 percent required inpatient stays in the hospital, and the majority of these hospitalizations were drug-related incidents.”

The APHC is hoping that through increased awareness the Army family can help reduce these numbers.

Protect yourself and your family with the following tips:

  • Read and re-read medicine labels to ensure you understand the proper dose and possible interactions. Call a healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have questions!
  • Dispose of unneeded products and lock up or move those you need to hard-to-reach locations.
  • f you are concerned about misuse of a medication or alcohol - your own or a family member- seek assistance through Army “Community Guide” to find local help.
  • Avoid contact and inhalation of fumes to toxic chemicals and use protective eyewear and gloves.
  • Save the Poison Control Center Hotline 1-800-222-1222 in your cell and on/near every home phone.
  • If you think a family member has been poisoned:
  1. Call Poison Control Center Hotline if they are awake and alert
  2. Call 911 if they have collapsed or are not breathing.

The Army Public Health Center focuses on promoting healthy people, communities, animals and workplaces through the prevention of disease, injury and disability of Soldiers, military retirees, their families, veterans, Army civilian employees, and animals through population-based monitoring, investigations, and technical consultations.