Medication Leading Cause of Poisoning Death in Children
“It happened so fast.”
That’s what young mother Billie Lombardo said.
Like many parents, Mrs. Lombardo thought her prescription bottles were too hard for her children to open. But in 2005, Billie Lombardo’s three-year-old twins, Chloe and Kevin Jr., climbed onto a kitchen counter and reached into a high cabinet.
They then proceeded to swallow pills contained within a prescription bottle that had a child-resistant cap. The twins were rushed to the closest hospital, where they fell into a coma. Two days later, Kevin Jr. had improved.
His sister Chloe wasn’t so lucky. She died shortly thereafter.
Did you know the US Poison Control Center receives nearly 500,000 calls per year related to young children accidentally getting into medicine due to not locking up all medications in a medical lock box, lab locker, or another lockable storage unit? That’s one call every minute of every day.
And according to Safe Kids Worldwide, a global organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children, the number of children’s deaths related to medication poisoning is dramatically increasing. A Safe Kids’ report states that “while the death rate among children from poisoning has been cut in half since the late 1970s, the percentage of all child poisoning deaths due to medications has nearly doubled, from 36% to 64%.”
Here are some more sobering statistics:
- Each year, more than 500,000 children under the age of five experience a potential poisoning related to medications.
- More than 60,000 children are treated in emergency rooms each year because of accidental poisoning.
- Currently, more children are brought to emergency rooms for medication poisonings than for motor vehicle injuries.
- One of every 150 two-year-olds is seen in an emergency room for medication-related poisoning.
More Pills, More Access
Child care and medical experts cite several possible reasons for the increase in medication-related poisonings. For one thing, there are more medicines in the home than ever before. In 2014, the number of prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies in the U.S. was more than 4 billion — compared to 1.4 billion in 1980.
In addition, parents and caregivers sometimes choose convenience over safety, such as carrying medicine in a purse or storing it in an unlocked pillbox. But it tales only seconds for a child to get into a medicine.
And sometimes even one pill can be deadly.
Also, more children then ever are living in the same household with their grandparents. Between 1980 and 2014, the number of children living in a household with a grandparent more than doubled. And grandparents take a lot of prescription medications.
The problem is compounded by the fact that older adults often use medicine bottles with easy-open caps or daily pill organizers to store their medicines. They also tend to keep their medicines in places that can be seen and remembered instead of using a medical lock box from a lock box manufacturer.
This convenience can have devastating consequences, according to Safe Kids: In 48% of medicine-related emergencies involving kids, the medicine belongs to grandparents.
Preventable Problem: Use Medication Lock Boxes
“About 165 kids — or roughly four school busloads of children — are seen in emergency rooms for medication-related treatment every day in the U.S.,” said Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Every one of those trips was preventable. We can and must do better.”
If you have young children in your household, or even if children visit your home, Safe Kids Worldwide recommends the following:
- Always put medicines and vitamins away after every use. A medical lock box is best. Never leave them on the counter between doses. Don’t be tempted to “keep them handy” in a purse, briefcase, or unlocked cabinet or drawer within a child’s reach.
- This applies to any households your child may visit, as well as visitors to your own home. Make sure your child’s environment is medication-free.
- Try not to take any medication in front of a young child; children mimic the adults around them.
- Teach your child that medicine should always only be administered by an adult. It’s important for kids to know that
they should not take any medicine on their own.
- Program the nationwide poison control center number (1-800-222-1222) into your phone.
McShane Metal Products Provide High-Quality Medication Lock Boxes
With the current issues in medication abuse, it’s more important than ever to lock up all your medication. Protect loved ones against potential drug ingestion that could lead to poisoning –while also allowing convenient access when you need it — with McShane’s standard medication lock box (comes with two keys) or a keyless combination lock.
McShane’s narcotic medicine lock boxes and prescription drug diversion lock boxes have removable shelves for storing various sizes of bottles or supplies. Flexible and discreet mounting options are available for all medical lock boxes manufactured by McShane Metal Products, and each medicine lock box is made from 20-gauge galvanized steel, giving your box years of durability resulting in superior protection.
Remember: While it may be a life-saving drug for you, it could easily become a life-ending drug for a small child.
Prevent a tragedy. Lock up your meds.