Accidental Poisoning and Children
Children are curious. They love to explore and as anyone with a small child will tell you, they love to put things in their mouths. They also like to copy adults and this might include “taking medicine”. Of course, they don’t understand the dangers that some products pose so it’s up to us to protect them.
Sadly, unintentional poisoning is a major cause of injury and a visit to an emergency department for Australian children. And the group most at risk? Kids under five years and particularly those aged one to three.
Parents of young children are typically super vigilant so an accidental poisoning can be very upsetting. Not surprisingly, most child poisonings happen when little people are unsupervised, even for just a few moments. We need to ensure everyday products that can cause harm are well and truly out of reach.
Keep ‘out of reach’
Here are a few common substances involved in childhood poisoning:
Prescription medication including:
Oral contraceptive pills
Blood pressure drugs
Over the counter products
Cleaning products including:
Dishwasher tablets and powders
Toilet bowl cleaners
Nail polish remover
Rat and mouse poison, pesticides and fertilisers.
Small children aren’t the only group at risk, according to Dr Ron Sultana, Director of Emergency Medicine at Epworth Richmond. “Over-the-counter pain-killers, such as paracetamol, are involved in a large number of accidental or deliberate self-poisonings in older age groups, with more people calling drug information centres about paracetamol than any other drug. Liver failure and death are unusual, but paracetamol remains the most important single cause of acute liver failure in Western countries.”
When to call 000
If the child shows the following symptoms, call an ambulance:
Loss of consciousness
Shallow, erratic or no breathing
Some poisons are highly toxic and only a small amount can cause serious problems including:
Respiratory or cardiac arrests (when the breathing or heart stops)
Unconsciousness (coma) or death
A visit to Emergency is always advised if you are worried, according to Dr Sultana.
First aid for poisoning
If you think a child has ingested a drug or taken an overdose and the situation is not urgent to require a 000 call, call the Poison Information Centre, even if they seem okay. The centre is open 24 hours a day, every day, Australia-wide. Poisons Information Centre Phone 13 11 26. For translation and interpreting services call 13 14 50
Don’t try to make the child vomit
Keep the medication container(s) handy for indentification
We sat down with Maya, Director of Strategy and Operations, Karla, a Mental Health Social Worker and Rosie, a Clinical Nurse Educator from Epworth Clinic to talk about what it’s like in a day of an in-patient.
A recipe from one of our very own team members for this decadent, delicious English dessert. Perfect for entertaining in winter.
More accurate than the Pap smear the cervical screening test is paving the way forward for prevention and reduction in cervical cancer diagnosis.
It’s the most common type of cancer in women, with 1 in 8 being diagnosed across Victoria alone. It’s time to talk seriously about breast awareness and cancer care.
For many women, losing their hair during cancer treatment can be like losing a part of their identity.
Epworth Healthcare’s wig salon aims to restore these women’s confidence and sense of self as they face the battle of their lives.