12-year-old's death highlights need for safe medicine storage

2018-01-03 21:55


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Cape Town - The death of a 12-year-old girl, who drank medicine meant for her ill father, has highlighted the need to keep medicines away from children in case they accidentally ingest some of it.

"Although death is not common in children, there are a few medicines where 'one pill can kill'," said Dr Cindy Stephen, Director of the Poisons Information Centre at Red Cross Children's Hospital.

Stephen's reminder comes as police launch an inquest into the death of the child at Eindhoven, a suburb near the Cape Town International Airport.

The girl is understood to have died on New Year's Day when she drank some of the medicine her father is taking for his cancer treatment.

READ: 12-year-old Cape Town girl dies after drinking father's cancer medicine

Stephen said that of all telephone calls received by the hospital's 24/7 poisons information helpline, 40% of calls concerning children under the age of five, are due to the ingestion of medicines.

Stephen drew up a checklist to remind parents and caregivers of what they can do to prevent accidental ingestion.

  • Always store out of sight and reach of children, like in a locked cupboard, high up where the children can’t reach.
  • Where a locked cupboard is not possible or practical, a wire cage with a padlock may be useful (similar to what is used at Clicks or Dischem). This can be used for medicines that need to be stored in a fridge.
  • Always put medicines away immediately after use. The most common poisoning incidents occur just after an adult has taken medicine or administered medicine to another child, and before the medication was put away. Children are quick and observant!
  • Remember that childproof containers are not 100% childproof.
  • Never refer to medicines as sweets or lolly. It makes them more attractive to a child.
  • Avoid taking medicines in front of children. They love to imitate adults, especially their parents.
  • Do not share medicines.
  • Do not store medicines in handbags.
  • Dispose of unnecessary medicines. Unused medication can be returned to the local clinic or pharmacy.
  • Be especially careful when visiting other homes, as they may not have stored their medicines as safely as you.
  • In the event of medicine ingestion, call 0861 555 777 immediately.
  • If the child is unconscious, gently turn them into the recovery position (on their side) and tilt the chin upwards so that they can breathe freely.
  • Do not make the child vomit.
  • Do not force a child to drink anything (not even milk), although you may rinse their mouth with water.
Read more on:    healthcare  |  accidents

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