More Kids Are Poisoning Themselves Due To An Increase In Grownup Meds But Doctors Aren’t Blaming You

By  | 

boy taking pillIt’s no secret that as technology progresses and more people live well into their golden years, that more people will also need to go on certain medications to ward off illness. So it’s not a stretch to speculate that this phenomenon is at least partially to blame for the 36 percent increase in children and teens being poisoned or overdosing on prescription medications meant for an adult.

Until recently this was just a theory. But a study performed by two emergency room doctors from Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Lindsey Burghardt, and Dr. Florence Bourgeois and their team, used National Poison Data System statistics and compared them to information about prescriptions written for adults, using National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys from 2000 till 2009.

The data they collected confirmed the suspicion that the increase in child and teen poisonings directly correlates with an increase in the number of prescriptions being filled by adults. This information might seem obvious but it’s still a serious issue. I appreciate the candor of the doctor’s advice and the fact that they focus on fixing the issue rather than assigning blame which is all too common in recent years.

Doctors Burghardt and Bourgeois give the following advice:

“The first line of defense is the pediatrician. They need to counsel parents about the dangers – which aren’t just in their own homes. It could be the grandparents’ home, or the home of any adult. Physicians prescribing drugs to adults should also be aware of the potential risk of exposures to children and provide guidance accordingly.”

Burghardt goes on to say that blister packs might be a simple and effective way to keep young kids safe. She mentions a case where her patient, a 3-year-old girl, grabbed a handful of her grandma’s heart and diabetes medications from a weekly dispenser (the kind with the days of the days of the week that pretty much every grandma in the history of grandmas has used). A blister pack would have prevented this from happening.

As for teens who may want to abuse certain drugs, especially pain medication, according to Bourgeois, it might be necessary to remove the drugs from the home entirely. Blister packs are useless in this case and even a 5-year-old can open the child-safety bottles.

What I like about this advice is that instead of playing the blame-game, the doctors are laying out a pro-active plan of action. A plan that may actually help the situation. Instead of laying all of the fault onto negligent parents or physicians, the gist of this advice is basically “we all need to work together to combat this trend.” I find this incredibly refreshing. Maybe the whole “it takes a village” thing isn’t dead after all.

(Photo:  Anneka / Shutterstock)