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Children falling victim to increasingly medicated society

By Colin Ricketts - 17 Sep 2011 13:21:0 GMT
Children falling victim to increasingly medicated society

The numbers of children being poisoned by prescription drug overdoses has reached such a level that an American hospital has set up a special project to try and get the numbers down.

The PROTECT Initiative is the work of Randall Bond MD of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, who is publishing his work in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Bond was shocked by the increasing number of poisoning cases he saw in his work as an emergency doctor.

"The problem of paediatric medication poisoning is getting worse, not better," he said. "More children are exposed, more are seen in emergency departments, more are admitted to hospitals, and more are harmed each year."

The levels of overdose are frighteningly high with 55 percent of emergency visits to hospital down to medication. Of those admitted as inpatients, 76 percent, had medication poisoning as had 71 percent of the children who were recorded as suffering serious harm.

The most common culprits for the poisonings were opioid drugs used as sleeping pills and pain killers. Also present in significant numbers were cases caused by taking heart medicines.

"Prevention efforts at home have been insufficient," Dr. Bond said. "We need to improve storage devices and child-resistant closures and perhaps require mechanical barriers, such as blister packs. Our efforts can't ignore society's problem with opioid and sedative abuse or misuse."

To come to his conclusions Dr Bond looked at the National Poison Data system.

Most of the cases were caused by children finding and eating tablets rather than mistakes in administering medication meant for the children. Dr Bond believes the rise in poisoning cases is simply a result of the enormous rise in the number of potentially dangerous medications in American households.

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