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Public Health Rep. 2010 May-Jun;125(3):423-32.

Carbon monoxide-related hospitalizations in the U.S.: evaluation of a web-based query system for public health surveillance.

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  • 1Epidemic Intelligence Service, Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch, National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, CDC, Chamblee, GA 30341, USA.



Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is preventable, yet it remains one of the most common causes of poisoning in the U.S. In the absence of a national data reporting system for CO-poisoning surveillance, the burden of CO-related hospitalizations is unknown. Our objective was to generate the first national estimates of CO-related hospitalizations and to evaluate the use of a Web-based query system for public health surveillance.


The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project's (HCUP's) 2005 Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) data were used for CO-related hospitalization estimates. Data for confirmed, probable, and suspected cases were generated using the HCUPnet Web-based query system. We used data from 1993 through 2005 NIS to describe trends in CO-related hospitalizations. We used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's surveillance evaluation guidelines to evaluate the system.


In 2005, there were 24,891 CO-related hospitalizations nationwide: 16.9% (n=4,216) were confirmed, 1.1% (n=279) were probable, and 81.9% (n=20,396) were suspected CO-poisoning cases. Of the confirmed cases (1.42/100,000 population), the highest hospitalization rates occurred among males, older adults (aged > or = 85 years), and Midwestern residents. CO-related hospitalization rates declined from 1993 through 2000 and plateaued from 2001 through 2005. The simplicity, acceptability, sensitivity, and representativeness of the HCUPnet surveillance system were excellent. However, HCUPnet showed limited flexibility and specificity.


Nationwide, the burden of CO exposure resulting in hospitalization is substantial. HCUPnet is a useful surveillance tool that efficiently characterized CO-related hospitalizations for the first time. Public health practitioners can utilize this data source for state-level surveillance.

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