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New study: Accidental medicine poisonings still happening at unacceptable rate

Posted: 8:52 AM, Apr 04, 2017
Updated: 2017-04-04 08:53:10-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A new study finds a striking gap between parent knowledge of medicine safety and their actions. While nine in 10 parents agree that it's important to store all medicine behind closed doors and up high, nearly seven out of 10 fail to do so.

"Kids are super curious by nature, they like to climb, they like to act like adults," said Lindsey Jelsma, a nurse practitioner in the pediatric trauma department at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. "If they see you do it, they want to do it too." Imitative behavior contributes to about 20 percent of poisonings in children under five. So if you're taking pills, it's likely you're kids will mimic your actions.

To better understand their knowledge and behaviors when it comes to safe storage of medicine, Safe Kids Worldwide conducted a 2017 study. The stats are downright scary: hospital emergency departments could fill four school buses a day with children accidentally poisoned by prescription medicines.

Jelsma says the poison control center gets about one call per minute. That's why it's important to keep your prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, eye drops, dietary supplements and vitamins out of reach and out of sight.

But many parents are storing medicine within sight of children and out of it's original packaging, which can be dangerous. Jelsma says kids have a hard time distinguishing what's safe and what's not, especially when a medication isn't in it's original bottle.

Keep in mind that child-resistant packaging makes it harder for kids to open medicine bottles but it's not child proof.

"What’s scary too, what if you go to grandma and grandpa's house, they even leave their pills out," Jelsma said. "So it’s other locations -- the babysitter, the friend's -- the child goes to the bathroom, they get curious."

Sometimes keeping a close eye on and or talking to your child is not enough.

The big takeaways here are to store all medicine up and away and out of sight, keep medicine in its original child-resistant packaging, and practice safe storage as soon as your first child is born.

Also, try placing the poison control number into your phone or somewhere visible in your home: 800-222-1222.

Medicine Safety Study 2017