Accidental Pill Exposure: A Family’s Story

Accidental pill exposure prompts call to poison control for young family.

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It happened in an instant.

Every night is hectic when you have three little boys. And when they all need to get in and out of the bath, it can require quite the juggling act. That was the setting that Doug and Dena found themselves in recently — and amidst the shuffling, there was a scare that nearly sent them to the emergency department.

Moore Family While Douglas, 6, and Maximus, 4, continued to play in the bath under Dena's watchful eye, Doug took 1-year-old Lucas out of the tub. With the baby wrapped in a towel, Doug laid him on the bed for a minute while he crossed the room to get the baby lotion.

In that split second, baby Lucas saw something that looked like candy on the bedside table and shoved it into his mouth.

When Doug returned, he noticed Lucas was chewing something and quickly fished in the baby's mouth. He discovered a chalky white substance and half of a pill.

Doug started to panic, remembering he'd left a 200 mg Advil cold pill he was planning to take himself on the bedside table.

Boys baseball uniform "We didn't know what the potential effects might be on our son," Doug says. Dena quickly Googled the number for Poison Control (1-800-222-1222), while Doug dialed. Almost immediately a Poison Control Center staff at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) answered their call.

A pharmacist trained in toxicology carefully listened to Doug while he explained the situation and quickly researched additional information about the accidental ingestion. He asked Doug a few follow-up questions, and determined that baby Lucas would be just fine.

The worst side effect Lucas would experience would be a stomach ache. To prevent that from happening, the Poison Control Center representative said to give Lucas some food or drink. He reassured Doug there was nothing to worry about. 

No two calls to the Poison Control Center are handled the same way. The pharmacist or nurse who answers the call provides expert advice based on many factors, including what was ingested, how much was ingested, the age and size of the patient, the patient's medical history and more.

"The pharmacist at Poison Control was so reassuring," Doug says. "He calmly told us our son would be OK and encouraged us to continue our usual night-time rituals with the boys." No hospital trip needed to be made; it was safe for Lucas to go to sleep.

Lucas did not have any ill effects from the accidental exposure, and the couple say they are so pleased this resource is available to families like theirs.

"It was such a relief to know our son was going to be OK," Doug says.

They provided us with knowledgeable answers right away and we didn't have to take an unnecessary trip to the emergency department. We can't thank them enough.

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