Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments (1)

What To Do If Your Child Gets Into Your Medication: The Poison Center Can Help

It’s a moment of sheer panic. You find your child chewing something and holding an open bottle of medicine. You don’t know how much, if any, medicine your child swallowed, or if it will make your child sick.

Unfortunately, as a pediatrician and poison center medical director, I’ve seen this happen all too often. In 2009, in fact, America’s 57 poison centers received more than 575,000 calls involving children younger than 6 and medicines – including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal products, and vitamins.

When that moment of panic happens, it’s good to know that help is just a phone call away.

Your call to the poison help line at 1-800-222-1222 connects you to your local poison center, which is staffed by nurses, pharmacists and doctors who can help you with your emergency. The expert will ask you some questions to determine whether your child can be treated at home or needs to go to the emergency room. Poison centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and answer millions of calls each year about poison exposures of all kinds and people of all ages. Your call is free and confidential.

Even if you aren’t sure it’s an emergency, call your poison center. It’s better to be safe.

You can take some simple steps to avoid emergencies like these. The new CDC campaign “Up and Away and Out of Sight” has important reminders about safe medicine storage that we encourage every parent, grandparent and caregiver to follow. Put medicine away and out of reach every time. Make sure the safety cap is locked on every bottle of medicine. Never tell children that medicine is candy to get them to take it. Make sure your guests keep medicine up and away and out of sight, too.

And, program the poison help number, 1-800-222-1222, into your home phone or cell phone so you can reach us easily and quickly.

One more thing – People often feel they’ve done something wrong if their child has been exposed to a poison. But by calling your poison center when that happens, you are doing exactly the right thing.

Have you ever done the right thing by calling your poison center? I’d love to hear about your experience!


You can read Dr. Robert J. Geller’s bio here.

*This blog post was originally published at Safe Healthcare*


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


One Response to “What To Do If Your Child Gets Into Your Medication: The Poison Center Can Help”

  1. dr-lasermed says:

    There is nothing more terrifying as a Mom than finding a medicine bottle almost completely empty – when you know you have only given the child a couple of doses. It had a child proof lid. It was up in a cabinet behind a closed door. That doesn’t stop an inquisitive child, unfortunately.
    I “found” most of the medication later in a glass and other places. After I had called the emergency room and poison control. This medicine is now over the counter. It’s an antihistamine. Observation of child was recommended.
    I re-evaluated medication storage and had another talk with small children about not taking medicines unless given by an adult.
    You can’t watch them ALL the time. I still felt guilty.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »