To investigate the characteristics and trends of out-of-hospital attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication-related therapeutic errors among youth <20 years old reported to US poison centers.


National Poison Data System data from 2000 through 2021 were analyzed. Population-based rates were calculated using US census data.


There were 124 383 ADHD medication-related therapeutic errors reported to US poison centers from 2000 through 2021, with the annual frequency increasing by 299.0% during that period. Two-thirds (66.6%) of the 87 691 first-ranked exposures involved children 6 to 12 years old, three-fourths (76.4%) were among males, and half (50.5%) involved amphetamines and related compounds. Most (79.7%) therapeutic errors were single-substance exposures. Although most (82.7%) individuals did not receive treatment in a health care facility (HCF), 2.3% were admitted to a HCF and 4.2% had a serious medical outcome. Children <6 years old were more likely to experience a serious medical outcome (odds ratio = 2.1; 95% confidence interval: 1.9–2.3) or be admitted to a HCF (odds ratio = 3.4; 95% confidence interval: 3.0–3.7) than 6 to 19-year-olds. The most common scenarios were “inadvertently taken or given medication twice” (53.9%), followed by “inadvertently taken or given someone else’s medication” (13.4%), and “wrong medication taken or given” (12.9%).


The frequency of cases reported to poison centers of pediatric out-of-hospital therapeutic errors related to ADHD medications increased by almost 300% during the 22-year study period and is likely attributable to increased prescribing of these medications. Because therapeutic errors are preventable, more attention should be given to patient and caregiver education and development of improved child-resistant medication dispensing and tracking systems.

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