The Danger of Children & Home Medication



Just a few days ago, a good friend of ours had a close call with her granddaughter which lead to a very enlightening experience. We wanted to share with you some lessons and say thank you to all the EMS personnel, nurses and doctors that helped on this day save a little girl and kept a family whole.  Here is her story:  “It is every parent, grandparent, great grandparent, loved ones worst nightmare to get a phone call that a child is unresponsive and being transported via EMS. This is what happened to us. Hadie was able to find, get into a full bottle of Hydrocodone medicine that had been prescribed to me for a tooth extraction. We all know the dangers of medication especially for a child which is why we take precautions to keep them out of a little inquisitive child’s reach. They say that these bottles are ‘child proof’ I challenge that and say it is more like ‘adult proof’ as a child is quick to learn from watching.
God was with her and our family during this critical time. Hadie is home now, resting finally and will follow-up with her Pediatrician. As my mother said; ‘if you do not believe that God has given us a testimony, you need only have been with us in the ED.’ Her life was touch and go and her level of consciousness was in and out. We asked for countless prayers and yes, He heard. He knew that the best thing for her to do was to be quiet, to be still and for us to listen and allow those He gave the knowledge to, to heal her. He came in many ways yesterday for so many people in the ED. We have each of you to thank for your concern, prayers and love. We certainly cannot do anything but through Him.
As a medical back grounded person I want to share this with each of you. Every minute of every day the US Poison Control Center receives a call regarding children accidentally getting into medicine. Every eight minutes our Emergency Departments treat for medicine poisonings. Deaths from prescription drug overdoses are called the ‘silent epidemic’ with someone dying every 19 minutes due to accidental overdose. For those of us who have medicines in our home let me share what some of our own medicine cabinets could and will do:
1. Heart pills – they can cause dangerously low blood pressure and heart rate, angina, atrial fibrillation and even lead to shock.
2. Aspirin, Ecotrin and Oil of Wintergreen – Oil of wintergreen is hazardous because it smells yummy but one teaspoon is equivalent to 90 baby aspirins. A life-threatening dose for a child and will cause nausea, vomiting, agitation, seizures, lethargy, coma and death.
3. Diabetes medicine – causes low blood sugar, coma and seizures. The rescue drug for this is glucose which can save their life.
4. Antidepressants – After pain medicine, this is the second highest cause of accidental death. They can cause seizures, unresponsiveness and heart arrhythmia’s. Symptoms can be delayed for up to 6-hours.
5. Prescription Pain medication – Even ½ a tablet of Hydrocodone can be lethal.
6. Blood pressure, Eye Drops and Nasal Spray – Designed to absorb into your skin over time can lead to serious consequences when ingested. As little as 6ml can lead to coma, lethargy and low blood pressure.
7. Muscle Rubs – Camphor is especially dangerous because ingesting it works so quickly; symptoms will occur in 10-20 minutes and a child can go into seizures without warning. It can also cause delirium, coma and death.
These are all medications that many have in their homes as we begin to age. I wanted you each to have a better awareness of what dangers lay behind our medicine cabinet doors or in the flip-top medicine dispensers we have. Also be aware that if you drop a pill and cannot find it, a small child will. When traveling also, hotel rooms are infamous places where this does happen and a parent will come to the ED not knowing how or what has happened only to find someone had dropped a pill in the room. It was pointed out to me by Sherri Brown, that she has a lockbox that she keeps her controlled prescriptions in. I agree with this as well if you have small children in the home. As I shared with her, we are asked to keep a lockbox for our weapons, we medicine is a silent killer too!
Please keep this number not only if you have a small child in your home, but for your own protection the number to Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222. Also, many of us were taught to keep IPECAC in our homes to help induce vomiting. We now know that this actually causes more harm so please throw this out if you do have it in your home. I share this because we take great precautions to protect our innocent but as we can all attest to, in the blink of an eye a child can get into something without notice.
I want to thank God first and then the staff at West Georgia Medical Center ED, our Firemen, EMT/Paramedics, Sheriff’s, Poison Control, our family and friends.”


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