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Children More At-Risk of Poisoning from Adult Medication Left Unsupervised

  • November 20, 2013
  • RPh on the Go

medication-safety-childrenThroughout the years, the amount of medications prescribed to adult clients has increased. This has led to an increase of children being exposed to and poisoned by medications intended for adult treatment regimes. Pharmacists must do their part to educate their clients on how to best keep medications away from children, and help to ensure that parents understand the dangers of children obtaining medications which are intended for adults. Though proper storage of medications has led to fewer deaths among children, studies report that the number of children visiting emergency rooms due to ingesting medication is on the rise.

This research was compiled across multiple age groups, and found that children ages 0-5 were at the greatest risk of hospitalization due to ingesting medication. If a parent was on opiates, the child had twice the risk of accidental ingestion. Researchers suggest that medication packaging may need to be altered to help alert parents to this danger. Pharmacists can help combat this risk by addressing parents that are currently on opioids, and ensuring that they understand the dangers of children ingesting these medications.

Among the age groups that researchers had tested infants, toddlers, and young children were the most likely to be affected by ingesting an adult’s medications. Helping clients to understand the necessity of keeping the amount of prescriptions that a child can access to a minimum is crucial for helping raise community awareness of childhood medication poisoning. Pharmacies can compile booklets along with their local Poison Control Center to help clients and caretakers learn what to do in the event of an accidental overdose or ingestion. A pharmacy can also sponsor an event with the Poison Control Center in their community as part of a safety and awareness campaign where individuals may also bring expired and no longer needed medications to be disposed of properly.

Proper medication safety intervention can help decrease the amount of children that require medical attention for accidental overdose or medication ingestion. Ensuring that young children are unable to access an adult caretaker’s medication is critical to reducing the cases of accidental medication ingestion and poisoning. Pharmacists can counsel clients on proper storage and handling of their medications to help raise awareness of this critical issue. Clients who are currently prescribed opioids may be prompted to take informational literature regarding accidental child poisoning due to medication ingestion. As a community, pharmacists and their clients can work together to ensure that all children are safe from the dangers of accidental overdose and poisoning throughout the year.

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