Let’s start with the scarrrrrryyyyyy stuff…poisoned candy.
EMS, Emergency Medical Service, is much more than a ride to the hospital. It is a system of coordinated response and emergency medical care, involving multiple people and agencies. It is activated by a call for help, usually by a call to 911, after an incident of serious illness or injury.
The Illinois Poison Center (IPC) is proud to be an active partner with EMS for toxicology related cases, when necessary, 24/7/365! No matter the severity of the case, the EMS/IPC team work together to guarantee the highest quality and speed of care. Sometimes the case is extremely serious and the timing of care is a matter of life or death:
Saturday, 7:00pm – A paramedic called the IPC while en route to an ER (via ambulance):
Today’s case study involves poisoning exposures that occurred because a potentially harmful substance was stored in the wrong container. One of the IPC’s core poison prevention messages is always store chemicals, cleaning products, and medications in their original containers. There are good reasons for this:
- The usage directions are always with the product
- The substance is in a child-resistant container when appropriate
- Everyone knows exactly what the substance is and what it is meant to be used for
Here are some real cases. In sharing these, we hope it will prevent further cases of the wrong container. Read more »
It is that time of year where friends and family come together to share a very special holiday: Thanksgiving. As you are celebrating this wonderful time of the year, take a little time out to reflect on the value of the services that IPC provides you year around. Read more »
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of months, you have heard about the new Illinois Medical Marijuana bill. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (what a mouthful) was approved on August 1, 2013 making Illinois the 20th state to allow medical marijuana use. Read more »
Have you heard about the new stomach bug sweeping the U.S.? Recently, the media has reported an outbreak of a new stomach bug spreading through the Midwest. To date, there have been hundreds of cases of people affected by this critter, with the highest counts occurring in Iowa followed by Texas. Did you know that since this outbreak started in June, there have been 21 people hospitalized?
Everyone at some point has cringed while watching the Hollywood version of their profession butchered in a movie. For example, law enforcement hates how police are shown jumping rooftops, forensics experts take minutes to find evidence, and attorneys take a couple hours in a courtroom to convict a perpetrator. We in the poison business have the same cringe-worthy moments when watching movies where someone has taken a lethal ingestion but survives due to a ridiculously simple or outrageously dramatic approach to the treatment of a poisoning or overdose. We genuinely fear that the general public will believe in what they are viewing.
For the second time in 14 months, Proctor and Gamble (P&G) has changed the packaging of Tide Pods laundry detergent packets in order to reduce the risk of pediatric poisoning with the products. The first change was to modify the closure of the plastic tubs; the latest change is to make the packaging opaque so that curious children cannot see the colorful, candy-like contents and be tempted to open the package.
As a child, my mother and I would visit her family near the Panama Canal Zone for summer vacation, and invariably there would be stories of “Sal si puedes” – literally “leave if you can.” Sal si puedes was the derelict and dangerous opium smoking section of Panama City in the late 1800’s and first half of the 20th century. Legend has it the narcotic-laced smoke was so thick that people walking through that area would get a contact high and choose to stay a while; never to leave again for long. It was a place where fortunes, dreams and futures died. Read more »
Here at the IPC, we get a lot of interesting calls. The first time I tell someone what I do for a living, one of the usual questions I get is, “what was the craziest case you’ve ever had?” It is hard to choose just one, but what sticks in my memory most are the really, really gross ones.
Temperatures and grills are hot, bugs are swarming and the sky is a glow with fireworks…it’s the Fourth of July! While the Fourth is usually a time for joyous celebrations, like every holiday, it brings forth its own set of poisoning hazards to adults, children and pets. Before you and yours celebrate America’s birthday, review these tips on staying safe this holiday! Read more »
I can’t believe that I am still getting this question from the parents of adolescent ER patients who have overdosed on medications or drugs. “Pumping a stomach” ( also known by the fancy medical term gastric lavage ) was commonplace in the 1960’s to the early 1990’s, but has not been used extensively in nearly 20 years by most practitioners. Read more »
It’s that time of the year again. No, I’m not talking about beach season; I’m talking about snake season. Did you know the American Association of Poison Control Centers received 6,158 snake bite calls in the U.S. in 2009 ? Read more »
Now that the weather is finally warming up, we can actually see Summer approaching just around the corner. Summertime means kids out of school, days at the park and gossiping out on the porch in the late evenings. For everything good thing there is always a downside. Not only does the warm weather bring more people outdoors, but also brings out the dreaded biting, stinging insects! Read more »
Are you concerned about the toxicity and cancer causing potential of dihydrogen monoxide, also known as DHMO? What? Toxic?! Cancer causing potential?! GASP! If you have not heard of this substance, arm yourself with information at www.dhmo.org!
I take great pride in telling others that I work for the Illinois Poison Center. Our call center team is always available to answer questions or resolve concerns about potential drug interactions. But there is another team of qualified individuals- your local pharmacists- who are able to help prevent medication errors. Read more »
Poisoning is the second leading cause of injury related death in the U.S. In Illinois alone, the IPC fields over 74,000 calls on poisoning exposures each year—nationwide, poison centers manage over 2.3 million exposures. Those stats may surprise you but did you also know that more than 90% of all poisonings happen in the home? Many of these poisons are things we all use or come in contact with regularly. Here are the top 5 most toxic substances that are in your house right now: Read more »
Along with sunny days and warmer temperatures, spring also brings something most of us are not excited about … allergies. Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, and are a major financial burden with an estimated $18 billion spent annually on prevention and treatment.1 And like any enemy, allergies change tactics. In the case of allergy triggers, they change with the seasons. Springtime allergens predominantly include tree pollens, followed by grass and weed pollens in the summer, and molds in the fall.
In January of this year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released an updated report on energy drinks based on Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) data. According to the report, energy drink related visits to the ER has increased dramatically as the sales of the products increased. Energy drinks are flavored, sweet drinks that contain added amounts of caffeine and other additives such as guarana (a source of additional caffeine), taurine and ginseng. They are marketed as providing benefits such as increased stamina, and enhanced physical and mental alertness and performance.
On Saturday, April 27, 2013, the Drug Enforcement Administration will be sponsoring a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day for the sixth time in the past 30 months. Americans will have an opportunity to empty their medicine cabinets, bedside tables, and kitchen drawers of unwanted, unused, and expired prescription drugs and take them to collection sites manned by local police officers and sheriff’s deputies located throughout the United States.
Unfortunately, as the President of the To the Maximus Foundation (TTM), I know the side effects of synthetic drugs all too well. The foundation was founded after the death of my son, Max Dobner, during his first time use of synthetic marijuana (Spice). TTM educates and informs about synthetic drugs and advocates for effective legislation.
As a former Peace Corps Volunteer (2002-2004, Republic of Kiribati/K-29) and a mom, I’m a strong believer and supporter of “it takes a village” especially when it comes to creating safer home, play and work environments. Read more »
As a father of three young children, I’ve seen my children get into most everything around the house. Young children’s curiosity can often put them at risk for exposure to a potentially harmful substance. In fact, close to 49 percent of all calls to the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) are regarding children 5 years of age and under. Read more »
A comatose 53 year female is found on the floor surrounded by 6 empty pill bottles. She is brought to a local emergency department for treatment. The physician examines the patient and then reaches for the phone . . .
A police officer pulls over a car that has been weaving on the roadway. In the car, there is a baggie of unmarked pills and the officer wonders if they are the cause of the erratic driving. He pulls out his cell phone . . .
A paramedic in a rural area picks up someone who just drank windshield wiper fluid. He wonders what sort of symptoms might develop in the 30 minute transport to the hospital. He picks up the phone and calls . . .
Illinois State Law Enforcement would like regular reports on the epidemic of synthetic drugs in Illinois. They reach for the phone and dial . . .
These are just a few of the reasons people and organizations call the Illinois Poison Center. The IPC is a first responder that provides critical, needed information at the point of care, whether it is a frantic care-giver or an experienced emergency department physician looking for help with a complex, critically ill poisoned patient.
As the Representative for Illinois’ 78th House District, I am proud to sponsor House Bill 1403 which protects the state’s investment in the Illinois Poison Center (IPC). The IPC provides critical services for Illinois’s citizens, providing poison prevention education and expert medical advice to both health care providers and the public, as well as acting as a first responder during public health emergencies. I have also seen, first-hand, the impact the IPC has on our state’s health care safety net through my work at Loretto Hospital on Chicago’s west side. Read more »