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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*

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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.

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