Saturday 23 February 2019

Some 60pc of accidental poisonings involve children under 10

Stock picture
Stock picture

Ralph Riegel

Ireland's national poisons centre receives an average of 26 calls each day about accidental poisonings - the majority of which involve children who gain access to stored medications.

A startling 60pc of accidental poisonings in Ireland now involve children aged under 10.

A total of 59pc of those case inquiries involve children who somehow got access to drugs and medications, the vast majority of cases occurring in the child's own home or that of a relative.

The revelation came as the Health Service Executive (HSE) launched its DUMP campaign (Dispose of Unused Medicines Properly).

The DUMP scheme, supported by Irish pharmacists, aims to safely dispose of out-of-date or unused medications.

Virtually all pharmacies now support the DUMP campaign which will run from October 1 to November 10.

People are encouraged to bring out-of-date medications or drugs that are no longer required to their local pharmacy for safe disposal.

The service is free and aims to ensure that such medications are kept away from the vulnerable.

HSE pharmacist Louise Creed stressed that it is vital householders ensure such unwanted medications and drugs are properly dealt with.

“We would strongly urge people to take this opportunity to get rid of out of date or unused medicines," she said.

"Medication can pose a real hazard in the home, particularly to children or other vulnerable people.

"Clearing out your medicine cabinet is something that should be done on a regular basis. Check all the dates and remove anything that is out of date or no longer required."

"As well as the hazards posed by overdose, accidental poisoning and damage to the environment, medicines can change when out of date and may end up being harmful.”

The greatest single risk posed by the storage of large quantities of medications is accidental poisoning.

In other cases, a person taking a medication which is out-of-date could have potentially serious side-effects.

The National Poisons Information Centre in Beaumont Hospital dealt with 9,356 inquiries nationwide in 2015 involving suspected poisoning in humans.

Of those inquiries, 5,221 (almost 60pc) related to children aged under 10 years.

A survey of the inquiries relating to accidental poisoning found that the top agents involved included drugs/medications (59pc), household cleaning products and chemicals.

Incredibly, 92pc of accidental poisoning cases occurred in a person's home or in a domestic setting.

A significant number of cases in which children were accidentally poisoned involved the youngsters mistaking brightly coloured tablets for sweets.

The DUMP campaign also aims to ensure large quantities of medicines do not build-up for potential misuse.

The National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) reported that in the first six months of 2016, there were 5,471 presentations to hospital due to self-harm.

Studies revealed drug overdose remains the most common method of self-harm, involved in 67pc of cases with prescription and over the counter drugs most commonly used.

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