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Self-poisoning by older Australians: a cohort study

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The known Self-poisoning is less common among older people, but the numerous medicines they often use provide a ready source of toxins. Further, multiple comorbidities may exacerbate their toxicity and hinder recovery. 

The new Most self-poisoning by older people was intentional, but the proportion of unintentional poisonings increased with age. Hospital length of stay, rates of intensive care unit admission and cardiovascular adverse effects, and mortality were higher among older patients. 

The implications As our population ages, self-poisoning by older people is likely to be an increasing problem. Although self-poisoning is associated with higher morbidity and mortality than in younger patients, the risk of a fatal outcome is low when patients are treated in specialist toxicology units. 

As our population ages, self-poisoning and the associated morbidity are likely to be a growing problem. Self-poisoning is a burden on the health system and is a risk factor for subsequent suicide.1 Drug overdose is less common among older people than in younger adults,2 but is associated with higher morbidity and mortality.3

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