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Ask Dr. Nandi: A young child goes to the ER for medicine poisoning every 10 minutes. Here's why

Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-16 09:20:17-04

(WXYZ) — A new study finds that every 10 minutes, a child heads to the emergency room because of medicine poisoning. It also took a close look at why they end up there.

The good news is, that this report by Safe Kids Worldwide found ER visits for children 6 and under had reduced by 32%. While I’m happy to hear that, there were still 52,000 children rushed to the hospital because they got into medicines that were not for them.

So why is this happening?

Well, this study sat down with parents to find out. Turns out, many of them didn’t think of medicine safety as a top priority when it came to childproofing their home. But, at the same time, parents felt that they were already storing medicine safely.

So why then are kids getting into medicines?

Well, apparently there is a difference between “storing” medicine and “keeping” medicine. When parents said they “stored” medicine, they meant long-term storage and placed these up high and out of the child’s sight. Like in a closet or a cabinet. But more frequently-used medicine, often taken on a daily basis, was actually kept in more convenient locations. Like a purse, diaper bag, counter or nightstand.

Researchers also found that too many parents are underestimating how quickly their child acquires new skills. They’re waiting for little Suzie to crawl first before placing baby gates at the stairs. And when you combine this with medications located in convenient locations – well, you quite possibly have created a ticking time bomb.

So what can you do? Well, I have my prescriptions:

  1. Know that your child’s curiosity will lead them to investigate all kinds of places. So keep your medications and vitamins up high and out of sight long before they learn to crawl or walk.
  2. Keep the poison help number on your fridge and as a contact in your phone. That number is 1-800-222-1222.
  3. Lastly, talk to babysitters, family, and friends about medicine safety. Especially if a child stays at someone else’s home.

It’s important to not underestimate how drugs and vitamins can affect young kids. Sometimes it only takes one pill to kill a child. And you don’t want to accidentally leave a medicine bottle in an unsafe location the day your child surprises you with a newly learned skill.