Pharmacists, nurses at Utah Poison Control respond to 145 calls a day
Taillac, who besides working emergency room shifts is the medical director of the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness, also teaches at the university and serves on the center's board of directors. When he teaches emergency room residents about toxicology, he tells them to make calling the center part of their routine, even if they think they know what to do. No one person can stay current on everything and the center's staff has excellent, authoritative resources to access information very quickly, he said. "I learn something (from the center) with virtually every case."
The Utah center's annual report shows that about 87 percent of the last year's calls to poison control were for "exposure" to potentially toxic substances, nearly two-third of the calls for kids 6 and under. Though the order changes a little between adults and children and from year to year, analgesics, household cleaning substances and cosmetics and personal care items are always the top three reasons for calls, Malheiro said.
"Cosmetics and personal care are always highest with kids and that definitely is a supervision issue," she said, adding that adults think about keeping medicine out of reach, but they "don't think about the mouthwash next to the toothbrush that could kill a toddler." Alcohol's the issue there and for small children, it's "really dangerous."
Fortunately, most children's exposures to substances will just make them sick, perhaps enough to throw up.
"Most cleaning products are not so caustic now," she said, "and we take a measured approach. We typically will not send you to a health-care facility if we think it's a relatively safe product. If we think it's something like an antifreeze, which is potentially deadly, we're going to send you."
The center has lots of valuable information online, including identifying poisonous plants and resources at uuhsc.utah.edu/poison/. From anywhere in the country you can call 1-800-222-1222 and be connected to a center near you.
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