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A review of the National Drug Poisonings Case Reporting System

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Author: Fadil Pedic

Resource Type: Technical Reports

NDARC Technical Report No. 4 (1990)


The purpose of this report is to present the preliminary fmdings of a review into the operations of the National Drug Poisonings Case Reporting System (NDPCRS). The background of the NDPCRS is first outlined, along with the current reporting system. Problems preventing the operation of the system as an early warning of drug poisonings are then cited. The consensus appears to be that the current system is not operating adequately or efficiently, reports from hospitals are infrequent and irregular, providing patchy coverage of patients presenting with drug poisonings. The relevant forms are handled in a variety of manners by the hospitals, with no standardisation. The reporting hospitals are highly dissatisfied with the lack of meaningful feedback from the central collection agency and with the lack of input regarding form design. Most hospital administrators are, however, highly supportive of an early warning system and would participate in any future system if overcoming the deficiencies in the system:

Recommendation 1: That a data collection person be employed in each participating state with a brief to collect data on all drug poisonings presenting whilst in attendance. 

Recommendation 2: That data collection be state/territory-based, with record tapes sent monthly to the Commonwealth for further analysis and feedback to all jurisdictions.

Recommendation 3: That the validity of poisonings data be tested to ensure recorded substances are present. Toxicologic verification through urine analysis on a regular basis is recommended.

Recommendation 4: That the system be sentinel-based with random sampling of hospitals from each strata, where stratification is based on the number of patients treated annually.

Other suggestions which might help in facilitating the operation of any future drug poisonings reporting system are then listed. First, the possibility of collecting aggregate rather than individual reports from the hospitals is discussed. Second, feedback and payment are discussed as two incentives which might improve the participation and form-completion rate by the hospitals. Third, the possibility of utilising existing hospital records through a computer network in order to gather drug poisonings data are outlined.