Four tips to avoid accidental poisoning

April 01, 2011

The Maryland Board of Pharmacy applauds President Obama for proclaiming March 20, 2011 through March 26, 2011 as National Poison Prevention Week. In recognition of this week, the board would like to support poison prevention through offering a few safety tips for consumers.

Although we tend to think of children when we refer to unintentional poisonings, the fact is that everyone is susceptible. Poisonings can occur from various sources including harmful chemicals, substance abuse or medications. As President Obama stated, "all Americans can help prevent needless harm from hazardous materials by becoming more aware of the dangers of poisonings and the ways we can prevent and respond to these incidents."

The first step is to keep all medications in a safe location away from children and pets. This includes over-the-counter (OTC) medications, nutritional supplements and all dosage forms of prescription medications.

The second step toward consumer safety would be utilizing one pharmacy location to monitor their various medications. Going to different doctors could possibly result in duplicate prescriptions, similar prescriptions that target the same condition(s), or medications that interact. Be sure to inform the pharmacist as well as other health care providers of all known allergies. A pharmacist is knowledgeable about medication doses, interactions and proper usage and can prevent potentially dangerous consequences.

The third step toward consumer safety would be for medications to be stored at the proper temperatures and in the proper location. Medications (prescription and OTC) should be kept in their original containers and in a secure location to ensure that unauthorized persons do not have access to them.

The fourth step toward consumer safety would be to dispose of unused prescription medications properly. This could prevent the consumer from using medications that were previously prescribed and could also prevent others from possibly abusing these medications.

In closing, consumers should know how to contact the Maryland Poison Control Center whenever there is a question regarding possible poisoning by drugs or other agents. In most cases, the Poison Control Center can give immediate telephone advice regarding possible poisoning and can identify most medications that have been mistakenly ingested. The Board of Pharmacy is also available to help assure medication safety and promote quality consumer healthcare. The Maryland Poison Center may be contacted at 1-800-222-1222.Contact the Maryland Board of Pharmacy for more information about preventing unintentional poisonings at 410-764-4755.

Janet Seed, Baltimore

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