For Immediate Release – Halifax: Every year the IWK Regional Poison Centre receives about 9,000 telephone calls related to poison information and exposure. Despite the serious nature of many of them, 90 per cent of the home-based calls are resolved without a health care facility visit. Poison Prevention Week is dedicated to raising the awareness of common poison hazards in order to prevent accidental poisons.
Calls to the IWK Regional Poison Centre at 1-800-565-8161 are answered by Poison Specialists who are registered nurses and pharmacists. Telephone advice is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The poison centre manages telephone calls directly from both the public and health care professionals, for any age (children and adults).
In 2016, 72 per cent of all calls (all ages) to the IWK Regional Poison Centre were due to accidental poisonings. Some of the most common calls were
Children under five
Young children are at risk of poisoning due to their small size, curiosity, quickness and habit of putting things in their mouths. They often mistake medicine for candy and do not have the ability to tell the difference between a poisonous and a non-poisonous product. Exposures in this age group typically occur when parents or caregivers are distracted, for example when they are making supper, answering the door or entertaining company. Caregivers often think that containers are “child-proof”, when in fact no container is truly childproof.
Teens and Pre-teens:
Adolescents are at a higher risk for poisoning due to risk taking behaviors such as misuse of medications, use of alcohol and use of street drugs.
Seniors are high risk for poisoning due to age and existing health problems that require daily use of many medications. Even double dosage of certain medications, such as those used for heart problems and diabetes, can be life threatening.
“One of the misconceptions is that medications are not poisons,” says Laurie Mosher, Clinical Leader for the IWK Regional Poison Centre. “The truth is that medications are the number one poison.”
A poison is anything you can breathe, touch or taste that might be harmful.
About the IWK Regional Poison Centre
The IWK Regional Poison Centre (IWK RPC) provides timely and current information regarding toxicological care for all of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. They also provide consult services for health care professionals in New Brunswick concerning the management of the poisoned patient in a health care setting.
The IWK RPC provides a 24-hour phone consultation service to both the public and health care professionals and provides information on a real or potential exposure to toxins. The IWK RPC can be reached at 1-800-565-8161. Visit www.iwkpoisoncentre.ca for more information.
About the IWK Health Centre
The IWK Health Centre is the Maritime region's leading health care and research centre dedicated to the well-being of women, children, youth and families. In addition to providing highly specialized and complex care, the IWK provides certain primary care services and is a strong advocate for the health of families. The IWK is a global leader in research and knowledge sharing, and a partner in educating the next generation of health professionals. Visit www.iwk.nshealth.ca for more information.
IWK Communications & Public Affairs