Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Norman V. Carroll



The main objectives of this study were: 1) to examine the prevalence and characteristics of opioid exposures, 2) to estimate the economic costs associated with opioid poisonings, and 3) to examine the characteristics associated with opioid poisoning-related health care resource use (HCRU) and costs in children.


Data from the National Poison Data System from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2014 were utilized to examine the prevalence and characteristics of opioid exposures and poisonings in children <18 years. Economic costs were estimated using the 2012 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, Kids’ Inpatient Database, Multiple Cause-of-Death file and other published sources, applying a societal perspective. Direct costs included costs associated with ED visits, hospitalizations and ambulance transports. Indirect cost included productivity costs due to caregivers’ absenteeism and premature mortality among children.


There were a total of 83,418 pediatric opioid exposures and nearly half of them resulted in poisoning. The epidemiology of opioid exposures differed considerably by age. Opioid exposures were more prevalent and mainly accidental in young children. Exposures in adolescents were more likely to be intentional and severe. The total economic costs of pediatric opioid poisonings in the United States were calculated at $230.8 million in 2012. Total direct costs were estimated to be over $21.1 million. Total productivity costs were calculated at $209.7 million, and 98.6% of these costs were attributed to opioid poisoning-related mortality.


Opioid exposures and poisonings in children continue to occur and impose an economic burden on the society.


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