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Am J Ther. 2016 Nov 24. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0000000000000541. [Epub ahead of print]

Unintentional Epinephrine Auto-injector Injuries: A National Poison Center Observational Study.

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1School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA; 2Virginia Poison Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA; and 3Department of Emergency Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.



Epinephrine is the only first-line therapeutic agent used to treat life-threatening anaphylaxis. Epinephrine auto-injectors are commonly carried by patients at risk for anaphylaxis, and reported cases of unintentional auto-injector injury have increased over the last decade. Modifications of existing designs and release of a new style of auto-injector are intended to reduce epinephrine auto-injector misuse.


The aim of the study was to characterize reported cases of unintentional epinephrine auto-injector exposures from 2013 to 2014 and compare demographics, auto-injector model, and anatomical site of such exposures.


The American Association of Poison Control Center's National Poison Data System was searched from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2014, for cases of unintentional epinephrine auto-injector exposures. Anatomical site data were obtained from all cases reported to the Virginia Poison Center and participating regional poison center for Auvi-Q cases.


A total of 6806 cases of unintentional epinephrine auto-injector exposures were reported to US Poison Centers in 2013 and 2014. Of these cases, 3933 occurred with EpiPen, 2829 with EpiPen Jr, 44 with Auvi-Q, and no case reported of Adrenaclick. The most common site of unintentional injection for traditional epinephrine auto-injectors was the digit or thumb, with 58% of cases for EpiPen and 39% of cases with EpiPen Jr. With Auvi-Q, the most common site was the leg (78% of cases).


The number of unintentional epinephrine auto-injector cases reported to American Poison Centers in 2013-2014 has increased compared with previous data. Most EpiPen exposures were in the digits, whereas Auvi-Q was most frequently in the leg. Because of the limitations of Poison Center data, more research is needed to identify incidence of unintentional exposures and the effectiveness of epinephrine auto-injector redesign.

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