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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Emergency Department Visits Involving Accidental Ingestion for Drugs

It is probably fair to say that there is hardly a house in America that does not contain some form of pharmaceutical medications. There are more prescription drugs handed out today than ever before in history, just about every other commercial on television deals with medications that could improve one's quality of life. Parents who take prescription drugs should be aware that more accidental ingestion of drugs happen to children ages five and below; keeping track of medications is crucial, prescription medication should always be locked up and out of reach from young children. A new report recently published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), DAWN Report, had some startling statistics that any parent currently taking medications should be made aware.

According to SAMHSA, 68.9 percent of an estimated 100,340 emergency room visits for accidental drug consumption were children age five and younger. The majority was actually three years or younger: 14.4 percent were three-year-olds; about 42.3 percent were two-year-olds; and 29.5 percent were one-year-olds. Only about one percent of the ER visits were children who had ingested illegal drugs, most of the prescription drugs consumed were ones that acted on the central nervous system:

Central Nervous System Drugs 28,186 40.8%
Pain Relievers 14,572 21.1%
Acetaminophen Products 7,008 10.1%
Ibuprofen Products 4,581 6.6%
Narcotic Pain Relievers 2,679 3.9%
Drugs for Anxiety or Insomnia 8,035 11.6%
Benzodiazepines 5,325 7.7%
Central Nervous System Stimulant Medications 1,859 2.7%
Cardiovascular System Medications 10,883 15.7%
Respiratory System Medications 7,111 10.3%
Psychotherapeutic Drugs 5,969 8.6%
Antidepressants 4,286 6.2%
Antipsychotics 2,034 2.9%
Topical Medications 5,964 8.6%
Drugs for Metabolic Disorders 3,444 5.0%

There is no excuse for being lackadaisical with prescription medication and parents need to be vigilant about keeping them out of their children's hands. Visitors to the household, babysitters, and even grandparents need to be informed as well. Fortunately, most the children admitted to the emergency room, about 85 percent, were treated and released; nearly 9 percent had to be admitted as inpatients, the rest of the children had to be referred to another location.


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