Advice for Your Pharmacist-Led Community Group

JANUARY 17, 2017
Pharmacists are a great resource for families, especially on medication safety issues. As a pharmacist, I felt the need to create a group in our community for families with newborn- through preschool-age children. This free program was advertised through our community Facebook page and has received positive feedback. Children participate in free play activities to promote health and fitness, and I provide medication safety tips. Ten families participated in the first group meeting where the following 3 health safety tips were discussed:
  1. Store medications out of reach of children.
Children can act quickly, so it is extremely important to keep medications out of reach and preferably in a locked area. Periodically check your home floor to ensure that there are no loose pills that may have fallen. Also, check out grandparents’ houses to ensure that medications are out of site when grandchildren are there. Since guests may keep medications in purses or other bags, make sure to place these items out of reach as well to keep children safe.  Keep the Poison Control Hotline (1-800-222-1222) programmed in all cell phones in case of a poison emergency.
 
  1. Keep batteries locked away.
More than 3,000 button batteries are ingested each year in the United States.1 Alarmingly, every 3 hours a child is taken to the hospital for a battery-related emergency.1 Button batteries are small and appealing to children and can result in serious injuries, including death, if they are ingested. If a button battery becomes lodged in the body, it can cause serious adverse effects including esophageal perforation, swelling of the chest area between the lungs, and vocal cord paralysis.  Button batteries can be found in the following electronic devices:2
  • Remote controls
  • Thermometers
  • Games and toys
  • Hearing aids
  • Calculators
  • Bathroom scales
  • Key fobs
  • Cameras
  • Holiday ornaments
Make sure that the battery compartments of all electronic items are taped shut and loose batteries are stored out of reach of children.
 
  1. Avoid laundry detergent pods.  
Single-load laundry detergent pods started to become popular in 2012 when they hit the market.2 However, they are extremely dangerous since they are highly concentrated. Manufacturers have tried making the pods safer by switching from clear to opaque plastic for outer containers or adding child-resistant latches. Even with these measures, laundry pod ingestion is still on the rise. Therefore, pods are no longer included in the Consumer Reports list of recommended laundry detergents. Adverse effects of laundry pod exposure include excessive vomiting, wheezing, tiredness, and corneal abrasions. Poison centers across the United States received reports of 11,528 exposures to laundry pods by children 5 years of age and younger from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.3  I recommended that parents avoid using laundry pods. If they are using them, it is important to keep them out of reach of children.
 
Creating a pharmacist-led community group has been a very rewarding experience. Poison prevention materials have been ordered from the Florida Poison Control Center to distribute to families at our club house. I hope to collaborate with other healthcare professionals in the community to provide educational events.    

References
  1. Button battery injuries in children: a growing risk.  AAP website.  https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Button-Battery-Injuries-in-Children-A-Growing-Risk.aspx.  Accessed January 16, 2017.
  2. The problem with laundry detergent pods.  Consumer reports website.  http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/07/the-problem-with-laundry-detergent-pods/index.htm.  Accessed January 16, 2017.
  3. Laundry detergent packets.  AAPCC website.  http://www.aapcc.org/alerts/laundry-detergent-packets/.  Accessed January 16, 2017.


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
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