A dangerous and potentially deadly mix: Children get into medicine or get the wrong dose 500,000 times each year

67,000 children are treated in emergency rooms each year for medicine poisoning

April 16, 2013 – (Tucson, AZ) – A new research report released by Safe Kids Worldwide finds children are getting into medicine at an alarming rate. Every minute of every day, a poison control center receives a call about potential medicine poisoning for a child age five and under. Every eight minutes, or 67,000 times each year, a young child goes to the emergency room for medicine poisoning. This is a 30 percent increase over the past ten years. “Ask any parent, and they will tell you they store medicine where children can’t get it,” said Kimberly Romo, Safe Kids Pima County spokesperson. “They may not be thinking of pills stored in purses, vitamins left on countertops or a diaper rash remedy near a changing table.”

Why the increase in exposure?

The increase in exposure reflects the increase in medicines in the home. Most adults take medicine or vitamins on a regular basis. Eight out of ten adults took at least one medicine or vitamin in the past week, and three out of ten adults took five or more. But they don’t always keep them up and away from kids. In 86 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine that belonged to an adult. In 67 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the medicine was left within reach of the child, such as in a purse, on a counter, or under a sofa cushion.

What‘s being done locally?

SKPC was recently selected to receive one of 20 grants that were given out by Safe Kids Worldwide. The grant will allow SKPC to continue spreading the message of poison awareness and medication safety. Community outreach efforts will be maximized since outreach teams and their tools will be available to even more people in Southern Arizona.

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is one of the founding partners of Safe Kids Pima County. It is a center of excellence at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy.

SKPC, Tucson Medical Center and the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center will work closely together to hold educational programs at schools, YMCA and Head Start programs. The purpose of these programs is to carry out the important message of medication safety for all ages.

Tips to keep kids safe around medicine:

  • Put medicine and vitamins up and away and out of sight after every use.
  • Look around your home for products you might not think about as medicine, like rubbing alcohol, eye drops or gummy vitamins, and store them out of the reach of children.
  • When you have guests in your home, offer to put purses, bags and coats where kids can’t get to them.
  • Program the nationwide poison control center number (1-800-222-1222) into your phones.
  • Visit SafeKids.org for more tips on safe storage, safe dosing and safe disposal of medicine.

Additional Information: Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14 and under. Spearheaded by Tucson Medical Center, the local chapter is part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of more than 450 coalitions in 16 countries bringing together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.