Pharmacist Participation in National Poison Prevention Week

MARCH 10, 2015
National Poison Prevention Week is March 15-21, 2015, and pharmacists can play a vital role in patient education.

The first step is encouraging patients to program the Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) into their phones. This toll-free number connects individuals to a local poison control center where all information is confidential, and translation is available in 161 languages. The US Department of Health and Human Services maintains a library of excellent resources that are free to utilize.

Additionally, pharmacists can contact their local poison control center and receive free patient materials that include brochures, posters, magnets, and stickers.
More than 60,000 young children are taken to the emergency room each year after consuming a family member’s medication.1 Pharmacists can educate patients to poison proof their home, and keep medications out of reach from children and locked away. Additionally, the safety cap should always be securely locked. 
Fentanyl patch safety is a great example of the pharmacist’s role in poison prevention, as exposure to the patch can be fatal for children. Since 1997,  there have been at least 32 cases of accidental exposure to fentanyl, most of which involved children aged younger than 2 years.Twelve deaths have occurred, and 12 cases involved hospitalizations.2  

Pharmacists should counsel patients to dispose of fentanyl patches by folding them in half with the sticky sides together and flushing them down the toilet.
Pharmacists can also involve their rotation students in these educational efforts. Together, we can play an active role in the community through poison prevention and medication safety.
  1. US Department of Health and Human Services. Poison Help. Available at:  Accessed March 10, 2015.
  2. FDA. Fentanyl patch can be deadly to children.  Available at: Accessed March 10, 2015.

Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, received her PharmD degree from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Pharmacy in 2006 and completed a 2-year drug information residency. She served as a pharmacy professor at NSU’s College of Pharmacy for 6 years, managed the drug information center, and conducted medication therapy management reviews. Dr. Gershman has published research on prescription drug abuse, regulatory issues, and drug information in various scholarly journals. Additionally, she received the Sheriff’s Special Recognition Award for her collaboration with the Broward, Florida Sheriff’s Office to prevent prescription drug abuse through a drug disposal program. She has also presented at pharmacist and physician continuing education programs on topics that include medication errors, prescription drug abuse, and legal and regulatory issues. Dr. Gershman can be followed on Twitter @jgershman2