WASHINGTON – More and more children are ending up in emergency rooms after accidentally taking medications designed for adults.
“We are seeing an increase not just in our E.R., but region-wide,” says Dr. Erik Schobitz, who works in the pediatric emergency room at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.
It’s part of a national trend. Safe Kids Worldwide, an advocacy group for child safety, reported earlier in 2012 that roughly 165 children in the U.S. are rushed to emergency rooms each day after finding and taking medications.
Kate Carr, president and chief executive officer of Safe Kids, says it’s the equivalent of “four school buses a day of kids.”
A big part of the problem, says Carr, is curious children getting into medicines left sitting out with caps ajar, or in weekly pill boxes.
“That happened to me when my oldest daughter was 2 years old. My grandmother had counted out her pills, and my daughter found her blood pressure medication and swallowed a bottle of it,” Carr says.
Schobitz says older family members usually opt for easy-open caps.
“It is getting into grandparents’ medication that is a big concern,” Schobitz says.
A major culprit, according to Schobitz, is blood pressure medication. However, the kids who get the sickest are those who take narcotic pain medications, such as Percocet and Vicodin.
“While that may be fine for a 200-pound male, it is not going to be good for a 2- year-old child,” Schobitz says.
Adults need to be more aware, says Schobitz.
“We are taking more of these medications. We need to be responsible as adults,” he says, adding that parents should not leave medicines out where where children can get into them.