Program Reminds Parents to Store Medicines Out of Reach and Call Poison Control Centers in an Emergency
Almost 60,000 young children end up in emergency rooms each year because they get into medicines while their parents or caregivers aren’t looking.
To address this public health risk, CDC initiated a public-private partnership, the PROTECT Initiative, aimed at reducing unintentional medication overdoses in children. A coalition of PROTECT partners is launching the
Up and Away and Out of Sight campaign to educate parents and caregivers about three simple steps they can take to protect their children
The program reminds parents and caregivers to:
store all medicines and vitamins out of reach and sight of small children
completely close child-proof containers, and call Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 800-222-1222 if children ingest drugs or nutritional supplements of any kind.
The program also provides free resources, including public service announcements, posters, tip sheets, videos, coloring pages and other materials for use in publicizing these vital messages.
Learn more about the program and CDC’s poisoning prevention work:
What is PROTECT?The PROTECT Initiative is an innovative collaboration bringing together public health agencies, private sector companies, professional organizations, consumer/patient advocates, and academic experts to develop strategies to keep children safe from unintentional medication overdoses. Medication overdoses can lead to harm, sometimes requiring emergency treatment or hospitalization and are a significant public health problem.
- Over 70,000 emergency department (ED) visits result from unintentional medication overdoses among children under the age of 18;
- One out of every 180 two-year-olds is treated in an ED for an unintentional medication overdose;
- Over 80% of ED visits among children under the age of 12 are due to unsupervised children taking medications on their own and 10% of ED visits in this age group are due to medication errors;
- Over-the-counter medications are involved in approximately one-third of ED visits among children under the age of 12 .
Purpose: To prevent unintentional medication overdoses in children
Measurable Goal: Reduce emergency department visits for unintentional medication overdoses in children
Together, PROTECT participants prioritized several key initiatives to help prevent medication overdoses in children:
- Implement improvements in medication packaging to reduce harm from unsupervised medication ingestions (children accessing and ingesting medication without adult supervision)
- Refine dosing measures on medication packaging and labeling to reduce errors potentially made by parents/caregivers when administering medications
- Identify key messages for an educational campaign to improve safe use of OTC medications by parents/caregivers
- Address key unanswered questions for effective prevention of this public health problem.
- Government Agencies
- Industry Partners: Pharmaceutical and Medication Packaging Industries
- Non-profit Organizations
- Professional Organizations
- Academic Representatives
- Unsupervised Ingestions Workgroup
Initial Objective: Identify innovative strategies by which OTC liquid medication packaging can be improved to minimize or prevent exposure to the medication when unsupervised children access and ingest medications.
- Medication Errors Workgroup
Initial Objective: Develop recommendations for improving and standardizing how volumetric measures (e.g., teaspoons, mL, ounces) are displayed on OTC liquid medication packaging and labels.
- Education Workgroup
Initial Objective: Identify key messages for a national education campaign targeted at improving safe use of OTC medications by parents/caregivers.
- Scientific Workgroup
Initial Objective: Identify and answer key questions that remain unanswered about unintentional medication overdoses and that can help guide effective prevention of the public health problem.
- Fostered development of a Voluntary Guideline for standardizing and clarifying dosing measures for OTC liquid medicines. All members of CHPA participate in developing the association’s voluntary guidelines. The CHPA guideline is consistent with recommendations of the FDA guidance for industry [PDF - 595 KB] on OTC dosage delivery devices, and encourages even further dosing standardization on package labels to reduce caregiver confusion.
- Fostered development of innovative safety packaging, specifically designed to decrease the number and severity of unsupervised ingestions by young children . A number of leading nonprescription drug companies have committed to incorporating new product enhancements for pediatric liquid products by Fall 2011, including new safety packaging for Infant’s and Children’s Tylenol.
- Schillie SF, Shehab N, Thomas KE, Budnitz DS. Medication overdoses leading to emergency department visits among children. Am J Prev Med 2009;37:181-7.
- Budnitz DS, Salis S. Preventing medication overdoses in young children: an opportunity for harm elimination. Pediatrics 2011;127:e1597-9.