Medication Safety and Children
According to the Safe Kids Worldwide 2019 report:
Medicines (including opioids) are the leading cause of child poisoning. In fact, in 2017, nearly 52,000 children under the age of 6 were seen in the emergency room for medicine poisoning. That’s one child every 10 minutes. Every 12 days, a child under age 6 in the United States dies from an accidental medicine-related poisoning. Every hour, a child is hospitalized for that same reason, and every nine minutes, a child goes to the emergency room.
To keep children safe:
- Consider places where kids get into medicine. Children often find medicine kept in purses or on counters and nightstands. Place bags on high shelves or hang them on hooks, out of children’s reach and sight.
- Remember products you might not think about as medicine. Health products such as vitamins, diaper rash creams, herbal remedies, and even eye drops can be harmful if kids get into them. Store these items out of reach and sight of children, just as you would over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
- Give medicine safely to children. Only use the dosing device that comes with liquid medicine, not a kitchen spoon. When other caregivers are giving your child medicine, write clear instructions about what medicine to give, how much to give and when to give it. Use a medicine schedule to help with caregiver communication.
- Save the Poison Help number in your phone and post it visibly at home: 1-800-222-1222. Specialists at poison control centers provide free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day. They can answer questions about how to give or take medicine and help with poison emergencies.
- Share medicine safety information with family and friends. Teach other caregivers about medicine safety and make sure they know the Poison Help number.
Sadly, children who suffer from chronic diseases can have chronic pain, making them unable to be involved in everyday activities. Families should work closely with healthcare providers to explore treatment options including non-opioid alternatives. Poor pain management in children can put them at risk for persistent pain and increased impairment as they transition into adulthood. This may even be linked to the development of new chronic pain conditions.