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Original Research

Open Access

The epidemiology of poisoning and overdose in Saudi Arabia: exposures, risks, management and outcomes

  • Bader Alyahya1,*,
  • Musa Alfaifi2
  • Abdulaziz Alalshaikh1
  • Mohammed Arafat3
  • Abdulrahman Aldhabib3
  • Abdulaziz Al Hosaini3
  • Ali Alsultan3
  • Amash Al Harbi4
  • Reem Alwaibah5
  • Ghada Alajmi6
  • Muath Alhumud7
  • Mohammed Alswoaiegh7
  • Abdulrahman Altalasi7
  • Saad Alhaddab7
  • Ghaida Almutairi8
  • Maria Zadah9
  • Nawfal Aljerian3,10

1Department of Emergency Medicine, College of Medicine, King Saud University, 11472 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

2Department of Emergency Medicine, Armed Forces Hospital, 62413 Khamis Mushait, Saudi Arabia

3Saudi Medical Appointments and Referral Center, Ministry of Health, 13717 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

4Saudi Ministry of Health-Assistant Agency for Hospital Affairs-National Health Command Center, 14235 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

5Prince Sultan Military Medical City, 12233 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

6Department of Pharmacy Services, King Saud University Medical City, 11472 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

7College of Medicine, King Saud University, 11472 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

8College of Medicine, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Science, 11481 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

9College of Medicine, Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University, 11564 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

10King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, 11481 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

DOI: 10.22514/sv.2024.035

Submitted: 11 October 2023 Accepted: 06 December 2023

Online publish date: 28 March 2024

*Corresponding Author(s): Bader Alyahya E-mail:


Poisoning is a major public health concern. In Saudi Arabia, information related to poisoning is limited. Herein, we report a large number of poisoning cases from across The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We reviewed cases of poisoning received by the Poison Control Center (PCC) at the Saudi Medical Appointments and referral Center. This was a retrospective review of all documented calls to the PCC between September 2020 and September 2021. A total of 39,439 cases were reported to the PCC during the study period. The mean patient age was 7.1 ± 12.6 years, 52.8% were men, and 36.9% were women; 10.3% of the study population did not specify their gender. More than half of the cases (61.7%) were children ≤5 years-of-age. Public calls accounted for 76.1% of the cases, of which 76.4% were managed at home. Exposures to poisons were mostly acute (84.9%) and unintentional (69.1%). Medications were implicated in 34.7% of cases, the most common medications were analgesics (9.3%). Moderate or major effects were reported by 18.4% of the study population. The vast majority of toxicology consultations received by the PCC involved the accidental exposure of poisons to children less than five years-of-age. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop educational campaigns targeting the safe use and storage of medications and chemicals in the household. Our findings also demonstrate that PCCs play a major role in reducing visits to the emergency department and will also reduce healthcare cost related to poisoning and overdose.


Poisoning; Epidemiology; Exposure; Overdose; Saudi Arabia

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Bader Alyahya,Musa Alfaifi,Abdulaziz Alalshaikh,Mohammed Arafat,Abdulrahman Aldhabib,Abdulaziz Al Hosaini,Ali Alsultan,Amash Al Harbi,Reem Alwaibah,Ghada Alajmi,Muath Alhumud,Mohammed Alswoaiegh,Abdulrahman Altalasi,Saad Alhaddab,Ghaida Almutairi,Maria Zadah,Nawfal Aljerian. The epidemiology of poisoning and overdose in Saudi Arabia: exposures, risks, management and outcomes. Signa Vitae. 2024.doi:10.22514/sv.2024.035.


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