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You might say the Illinois Poison Center is the antidote to unnecessary health care costs

Posted: January 26th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments »

A Poison Center means different things to different people

  • For a parent, it is a place to call for treatment advice if their child eats, drinks, rubs onto their skin or breathes a potentially harmful substance
  • For a doctor or nurse, it is the place to call for treatment recommendations for potentially poisoned patients in their care
  • For health educators, it is the lead organization for materials and assistance in providing poison prevention education in their communities
  • For researchers, our database is the place to come for trends and analysis for potentially emerging outbreaks to hazardous substances

At this time of year, as health care reform is debated at all levels of government and society, I think it is important to point out the financial value of poison centers.  It is conservatively estimated that the Illinois Poison Center saves $50 million dollars a year in health care costs, or about $12 for every dollar spent on providing poison center services to Illinois.  Not bad for a not-for profit with a $4.4 million dollar budget! Read more »


A Spoonful of Trouble

Posted: January 19th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Do you still use a kitchen spoon to measure out medication instead of a dosing cup or dropper?  If so, you are putting yourself or your kids at risk.  A recent study showed that using a kitchen spoon to measure medication results in an overdose 12% of the time and an under-dose 8% of the time.  Another study in a pharmaceutical journal showed that an ‘average’ household teaspoon contains anywhere from 1.5mL-9mL  (an actual teaspoon is supposed to be 5mL, or milliliters).  That’s because kitchen spoons are made for style/appearance or for the ergonomics of eating—NOT for the important job of precisely measuring out chemicals known as medicine.   Even giving a little extra medicine can cause harm.  Some prescription liquid medications like painkillers or heart medication can be dangerous if a little extra is given even once.  And over the counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®) are often given every 4-6 hours for several days, meaning a small overdose can be multiplied over time.  Not getting enough medication can be problematic as well.  For example too little of an antibiotic may mean the infection doesn’t go away, and under-doses of maintenance medications like stomach or epilepsy drugs can mean that symptoms are never controlled. Read more »


Poisoning is a Matter of Dose

Posted: January 12th, 2010 | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments »

In 2006, I nearly killed my kidneys because I ignored the rule “poisoning in only a matter of dose”.  With regards to poisoning, the potentially harmful dose of a medication can be acute meaning too much all at once, or chronic referring too much over an extended period of time.  Paracelsus, a 16th century physician who is often referred to as the father of toxicology wrote, “All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous”.  I could have avoided a 3 day hospital stay if I had taken what I learned in fellowship to heart. Read more »


Top 5 Things You Didn’t Think Could be Poisonous to Children

Posted: January 5th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

Half of the calls received by the IPC involve kids under the age of 6.  Young children are naturally curious and explore their environments by touching and putting things into their mouths.  They learn by imitation, their taste buds are immature and they do not understand cause and effect.  Plus they are just small, so in many cases it doesn’t take much to overwhelm their little systems.  The IPC recommends keeping all potentially harmful substances away from children, because just about anything can be a poison in the right amount.  The following 5 things are in many households and it may surprise you that they can be so harmful. Read more »