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How Children Get Their Hands on Harmful Medications

As pharmacy malpractice attorneys, we often discuss the medication mistakes negligent pharmacists make that put children in danger of suffering serious and even fatal side effects after receiving the wrong medication or the incorrect dosages of drugs. While this is a huge concern parents need to be aware of when picking up their children’s prescriptions, parents also need to be alert to the fact that children get their hands on the wrong medication 500,000 times a year, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, a non-profit advocacy group.

While some children receive the wrong medication from pharmacists, others find medicines, typically in the form of pills, that are left on counters, floors, in purses, or in other various places. Kids take pills they find because they are curious what it may be, as sometimes they think it may be candy. Unfortunately, the medications children get their hands on can range from vitamins to allergy pills to pain killers.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, the eight most harmful medications in 2010 that children found and caused fatalities were:

  1. Analgesic medications such as prescription painkillers – account for 31 percent of fatal child poisonings
  2. Antihistamines – account for 17 percent of fatal poisonings in children
  3. Sedatives, hypnotics, antipsychotics – account for 17 percent of child fatal poisonings
  4. Cold and cough medicine – account for 11 percent of fatal poisonings in children
  5. Cardiovascular drugs – account for 9 percent of child fatal poisonings
  6. Unknown drugs – account for 9 percent of child fatal poisonings
  7. Dietary supplements – account for 3 percent of fatal poisonings in children
  8. Hormones and hormone antagonists – account for 3 percent of fatal poisonings in children

Safe Kids Worldwide took a look at data from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission as well as poison control centers and found the following information:

  • A child goes to the emergency room every eight minutes
  • Poison control centers receive a call each minute of the day about potential   medicine poisoning for a child age five and under
  • In the last ten years, these numbers have increased 30 percent

Experts believe that the increase in children getting their hands on medicine is in part due to adults taking more medication, which subsequently means more drugs are found in the home. According to this data, ibuprofen was the number one medication children got their hands on.

How to Keep Children Safe Around Medicine

Parents need to put away all their prescribed medications, over-the-counter medicines, and vitamins; lock up everything from eye drops to rubbing alcohol to cleaning products. Also, females need to stop leaving their handbags lying around. Parents also need to have a talk with grandparents about medication accessibility. Unfortunately, elderly people take many drugs and often leave the prescription containers in accessible places that kids can find.

If your child suffered harm from a medication mix-up at the pharmacy, please call Kennedy Hodges, L.L.P. at 888-526-7616 and speak with a pharmacy error attorney to find out about your rights. You will receive a free consultation and a FREE copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.