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SUNY Upstate Will Distribute 1,000 Medication Lock Boxes to Prevent Poisoning in Children

John Smith/WAER News

Nearly half of the more than 18,000 calls to the Upstate Poison Control Center in 2019 were about kids six and younger who had unintentional drug poisonings from medicine.  The hospital is using grant funding to provide nearly 1,000 affected families with medication lock boxes before they leave the hospital.

Clinical Toxicologist Jeanna Marraffa at Upstate Poison Center explains why opioids should be locked up and away from kids or teens.

We manage 44 cases alone of children unintentionally ingesting an opioid pain medicine,” Marraffa said. “One of our goals is to do better at protecting the most vulnerable patients from unintentionally poisonings to medicines, especially high risk medicines like opioids.”

Credit John Smith / WAER News
Dr. Tyler Greenfield says infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to unsecured medications.

There’s no telling how a child is going to react if they accidentally take medication prescribed to someone else.  Director of the Upstate Pediatric Emergency Department Dr. Tyler Greenfield says while bigger children, teens and adults might not be harmed, it has much different outcomes for smaller children.

A toddler or infant who’s crawling around finds one of these pills or has a pill bottle that’s accessible, that one pill can actually be life threatening in some of these medications,” Greenfield said.

Greenfield adds that’s largely because all medications prescribed to young children are based on weight.  The prescription boxes look like a small- scale briefcase and with a programmable combination and are sold at most pharmacies.   

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.