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A Child is Rushed to the ER every 10 Minutes for Medicine Poisoning — How to Prevent

baby looking over safety gateA young child is rushed to the ER every 10 minutes for medicine poisoning across the US. That’s nearly 52,000 children a year. Fortunately, a recent study on medicine safety has uncovered some of the reasons so many children are still being poisoned by medications and what can be done about it.

Medicine Poisoning in Children: Facts and Trends

Although there was a 32% decrease in medicine poisoning in 2017 compared to 2010, 1,000 kids under age 6 are still rushed to the ER for medicine poisoning each week.  Every hour, a child under the age of 6 is hospitalized because of an accidental medicine poisoning. According to the West Virginia Poison Center, the drug they receive the most calls about involving children poisoning is buprenorphine, also called Suboxone. The Center says it’s imperative to take a child immediately to an ER if they are exposed to even a small amount of Suboxone.

Top Safety Tips to Protect Children from Medication and Other Poisons

1. Store all medicines and household products out of children’s sight and reach. This includes bleach, detergents, dishwasher liquids and cleaning solutions that are often kept under sinks.

2. Use safety locks if medicines and household products aren’t kept out of childrens’ reach.

3. Keep all medicine in the same safe storage place–out of reach or secured with safety locks–including medicines used on a regular basis.

4. Save 800-222-1222 — the Poison Control Center’s toll-free number in your phone and post it on your refrigerator for the babysitter.

5. Plan for your child’s growth: Be aware that young children grow and develop at an incredible rate. What they might not be able to reach today, they may be able to reach tomorrow.

Why are young children still flooding West Virginia ERs in 2019 because of Medicine Poisoning?

Although progress has been made in preventing some child medicine poisonings, far too many kids are still being poisoned. Safe Kids Worldwide conducted a study to investigate why this is still a problem despite the massive awareness and educational efforts that have been initiated by the government and non-profit organizations.

The Medicine Safety and Children Study involved interviews with parents of children who had been poisoned by medication to try and understand what contributed to their child’s poisoning. The study found several important patterns that were prevalent in many of the accidental poisonings:

  • Underestimating a child’s ability and/or speed of development. Because children grow and develop so rapidly, parents were frequently surprised by what their child was able to, including getting into medications they thought were out of the child’s reach. Thus, the study found it’s important to recognize that a child’s abilities are constantly changing and plan for that when deciding what “out of reach” means for your child.
  • Understanding the difference between “store” and “keep”. Many parents reported storing medicines in multiple locations. Due to the demands of life, parents often tended to keep some medications up and away from children while keeping other medications they might take more frequently in a location more accessible to children.
  • All medications pose a serious danger to young children. Another common reason parents tended to keep medications in multiple places, including places that weren’t out of reach is because they didn’t realize that all medications pose serious dangers to young children if taken without the supervision of a caregiver.
  • The highest-risk age group is 15 to 30 months of age. This is also the most important period for parents and caregivers to anticipate a child’s development and abilities when considering medicine safety.


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