Excellent Resource/Professional Evaluation

Cynthia Murray

Cynthia Murray

Blast From The Past
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The words “I just turned my back for a minute” are classic precursors to every parenting nightmare. With multiple children demanding attention, it’s difficult to keep a watchful eye over their growing independence and gift for chaos, despite every effort to childproof your home. 

The wise product warning to "keep out of reach of children" is also unrealistic when your child is tall and strong enough to drag a chair to the forbidden cupboard but not yet wise enough to avoid it. Thus, one morning, I found my proud, gooey 4-year-old son with '80s-level hairspray shellacked all over his “new hairdo.”

Despite several attempts at flushing his head, our child became progressively more irritated, particularly in his eyes, so we called Utah Poison Control Center (UPCC) and explained our worry. Though it was on a weekend during the holidays, Poison Control answered, as they do 24/7/365. Their guidance in seeking urgent care was clear and appreciated.

Armed with drops to combat a double eye infection from a chemical/allergic reaction, we felt relieved to avoid a permanent vision impairment for our son. Poison Control followed up with several phone calls over the next few days, and we were grateful to report he was improving. 

Poison Control is not only a parent’s best friend but an excellent resource for myriad incidents, including possible poison exposures, prescription drug reactions, and potential overdose (a key player in combatting the opioid crisis). You can trust their toxicology experts—pharmacists, nurses, and physicians—who handle an average of 121 cases per day.1

In fact, the UPCC has provided over two million phone consultations in their 70 years of operation, reducing the burden on emergency dispatchers, EMS, and health care providers while also saving Utah families approximately 16,000 unnecessary ER visits annually to the tune of nearly $20 million.2

The MPDS® allows for the referral of certain calls (low potential acuity and no priority symptoms) to the local poison control center, which plays a vital role in saving lives. In the case of severe toxic ingestion or exposure, the UPCC notifies hospitals of specialized medications or interventions that will be needed while the patient is in transport, saving critical time.3 Each communication center should have a joint policy with their Poison Control Center to address these situations.

Thirty years ago, the Principles of EMD published incident data from the UPCC to illustrate general trends that are similar today4, 5
• Most cases are “general” unintentional exposures (67% in 1994; 88% in 2022)
• Many cases include children under age 6 (61.8% in 1994; 50% in 2022)
• Most cases occur at home (85.4% in 1994; 87.1% in 2022)

As a cautious parent, I’ve moved the hairspray up another shelf in our home, but I’m glad to have Poison Control saved in my phone if ever I forget this lesson. 

1. “2022 Annual Report.” Utah Poison Control Center. College of Pharmacy. L.S. Skaggs Pharmacy Institute. University of Utah Health. poisoncontrol.utah.edu/documents/annual-report-2022
2. See reference 1.
3. See reference 1.
4. Clawson J, Dernocoeur K, Murray, C. “9-1-1 Transfers to the Utah Poison Control Center, 1994.” Principles of Emergency Dispatch. Sixth Edition. Salt Lake City, Utah: Priority Press. 2015. Appendix H pages A.41–A.43.
5. See reference 1.