Substance Abuse

ER Visits by Kids Accidentally Taking Parents’ Meds on the Rise

When it comes to children and medicines, one cannot be too careful. A recent study found that there is an increase in the number of children taken to the ER after accidentally ingesting their parents’ medicines, placing focus on the importance of storing medicines properly and securely.

A study published recently in the Journal of Pediatrics observed an increase in the number of children being taken to the ER, because they accidentally took adult prescription medicine. The researchers observed a 36 percent increase in admissions, and 28 percent increase in ER visits, due to unintentional exposure to medication, among children 5 years old or younger, between 2001 and 2008.

Dr. Randall Bond, an emergency medicine physician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and study researcher, shared: “The problem of pediatric medication poisoning is getting worse, not better.”

Most of the ER visits and admissions were due to prescription medicines, at 55 and 76 percent respectively. The study found a 101 percent increase in ER visits due to accidental ingestion of prescription opioid painkillers, such as oxycodone, over the same time period.

Dr. Bond said further: “Prevention efforts of parents and caregivers to store medicines in locked cabinets, or up and away from children, continue to be crucial… However, the largest potential benefit would come from packaging design changes that reduce the quantity a child could quickly and easily access in a self-ingestion episode, like flow restrictors on liquids and one-at-a-time tablet dispensing containers.”

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