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Original Research

Open Access

Trends in drug poisoning hospitalizations over ten years in South Korea: mortality and length of hospital stay

  • Jae Hwan Kim1
  • Chiwon Ahn1,*,
  • Sojune Hwang1

1Department of Emergency Medicine, College of Medicine, Chung-Ang University, 06974 Seoul, Republic of Korea

DOI: 10.22514/sv.2024.053 Vol.20,Issue 5,May 2024 pp.17-23

Submitted: 06 November 2023 Accepted: 12 December 2023

Published: 08 May 2024

*Corresponding Author(s): Chiwon Ahn E-mail:


Drug poisoning has evolved in South Korea, with changes in substance availability and a rise in non-lethal abuse among youth, necessitating an updated understanding of this public health concern. This study aims to investigate the shifts in toxicity-causing substances and their impacts over the past decade, providing a comprehensive overview to inform future interventions. This study were conducted as a retrospective observational study utilizing the Korea National Hospital Discharge In-depth Injury Survey, including data from January 2011–December 2020. Hospitalization patterns, durations and corresponding mortality rates were examined. The study, analyzing 10,017 patients hospitalized for drug poisoning, observed a decrease in average hospital stay (average decrease from 7.1 days in 2011 to 5.8 days in 2020) and mortality rate (7.7% in 2011 to 2.6% in 2020), with older adults having the longest stays and highest mortality. The use of prescription and non-prescription drugs as intoxicants increased, while pesticide use decreased, with older adults showing the highest frequency of pesticide poisoning. Factors affecting length of stay and mortality rate included age, sex and intent, with statistical analyses showing significant correlations. An increase in poisonings was caused by prescription and non-prescription drugs, whereas there was a decrease in poisonings caused by pesticides. Despite decreases in drug poisoning-related deaths in South Korea, largely attributed to national control for high-toxic agents and improved medical systems, the rising number of incidents involving prescription and over-the-counter medications highlights the urgent need for ongoing surveillance and focused interventions.


Hospitalization; Intoxication; Mortality; Poisoning; South Korea

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Jae Hwan Kim,Chiwon Ahn,Sojune Hwang. Trends in drug poisoning hospitalizations over ten years in South Korea: mortality and length of hospital stay. Signa Vitae. 2024. 20(5);17-23.


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