By Samantha Lee, PharmD, DABAT, Pharmacist, and Lauren Bul, MPH, Poison Center Educator, Minnesota Poison Control Center
Did you know that drug poisoning is now the leading cause of injury death in the U.S.? National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW) was enacted in 1961 by the President of the United States and is designated the third week of every March. The goal of NPPW is to increase public awareness of the dangers of unintentional poisoning and teach poison prevention.
Every year, more than 2 million unintentional poisonings are reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). Poison centers work with the community and various organizations to educate the public that many of these poisonings can be prevented.
This year, the following themes will be promoted by poison centers around the nation to raise public awareness on unintentional poisonings and its prevention:
- Monday, March 20 – Children Act Fast… So Do Poisons
- Tuesday, March 21 – Poison Centers: Saving You Time and Money
- Wednesday, March 22 – Poisons Span a Lifetime
- Thursday, March 23 – Home Safe Home
- Friday, March 24 – Medicine Safety
Poisonings can happen to anyone. Almost half of reported poisonings involve children under the age of six years. However, many of the more serious poisoning cases occur among adolescents and adults. Several factors can contribute to unintentional poisoning, such as lack of supervision, improper storage of potential poisons and medicines, and failing to read and follow directions. Medicines are involved in almost 60% of the poisonings reported to poison centers but other common sources include household and personal care products, plants, and carbon monoxide. While most poisonings involve ingestion, a poison can enter the body via the eyes, skin, lungs/inhalation, or even bites and stings from an animal or insect.
Unintentional poisonings make up more than one million emergency department (ED) visits annually, including more than 60,000 children seen in the ED for getting into medication without adult supervision. Improper and unnecessary medication use has been shown to cost more than $200 billion in healthcare spending in the U.S each year. According to the AAPCC, more than 7,600 calls are handled each day by the nation’s poison centers that are staffed by specially trained pharmacists, nurses, physicians, and poison information providers. Poison centers offer confidential and free medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week via the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222 to provide poisoning information and help reduce healthcare costs.
For more information on National Poison Prevention Week, visit:
NPPW is a great way to raise awareness about ways to prevent unintentional poisonings! For more information on NPPW events in your area, please check with your local poison center (http://www.aapcc.org/centers/). You can follow NPPW on social media by using the hashtags #NPPW17 and #preventpoison.