Poison Prevention Week stresses dangers of Rx, OTC poisonings

March 24, 2011

The American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Association of Poison Control Centers are raising awareness about the dangers of drug poisoning as part of Poison Prevention Week, which is taking place March 20 to 26.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and the American Association of Poison Control Centers are raising awareness about the dangers of drug poisoning as part of Poison Prevention Week, which is taking place March 20 to 26.

In 2009, unintentional poisoning caused about 708,318 emergency department visits, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Just recently, The House of Representatives voted to cut $27.3 million from the federal poison control program. ACEP sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to continue allocating more than $29 million in funding for the 57 poison control centers that serve the nation 24 hours per day, year-round.

“People are abusing prescription drugs and over-the counter drugs, and it’s a serious and growing problem,” said Sandra Schneider, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. “Very young children had the highest rate of unintentional drug poisoning, which is a wake-up call for parents to make sure their medicines are out of reach.”

Drug-related poisoning deaths are second only to motor vehicle crashes among the leading causes of injury death, according to the study, which was published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

According to the same report, antidepressants and painkillers were responsible for 43% of all drug-related poisoning. The estimated emergency department charges for drug-related poisonings were $1.4 billion.

“We all need to work together, take responsibility, and use common sense to protect people from drug poisoning,” said Dr. Schneider. “We see too many people affected by this in our emergency departments. With all of the information and warnings available to the public, that should not be the case.”

“The most important thing [for pharmacists to know] is to be aware that we are here and we are available 24 hours a day via an 800 number. When they get questions on therapeutic errors and overdoses, [they can] give out our number,” said the managing director for the Northern Ohio Poison Center, Alfred Aleguas, PharmD, D.ABAT.

For more information on drug-related poisoning, go to

www.EmergencyCareForYou.org

.