Calling poison control

Pediatrician Alan Nager, MD, shares advice for parents on the signs that your child may have ingested something poisonous and that you should call poison control
When To Call Poison Control For Your Child
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Calling poison control

A child who ingests something, and of course that could be the gamete all the way from a toy part to a medicine, it's really important for the parent to call poison control and get advice. There's lots of reasons for that, but I'll go through a couple. One is that many substances, and I'm talking about liquids, medicines, crayons, certain of those substances are benign, don't really cause any serious effects, and so the parent may just be given some education over the phone. On the other hand, there are substances that, if ingested, can be life-threatening. And the poison center can give some quick advice. So for instance, should the child drink milk? Should the child not drink anything? Should there be any counteracting substances that can be given in the home right away or not? There are certain ingestions for which inducing vomiting may cause further problems if the child were to vomit. Not only can this substance burn the food pipe or esophagus, but they perhaps can suck the material back into their lungs, that's termed aspiration. So all this really means is that the poison control, depending on the substance or material or product ingested, can give quick and simple advice while the parent is at home. In certain instances, the child may not need to come to the emergency department, so the parent shouldn't just automatically drive their child in because it may not be necessary. And there's one more very crucial and important thing, and that's that every parent should have the phone number for their parent control. Baby sitters might be involved in childcare, nannies, but even at a parent's own disposal it's good to have a visible number so that it's handy, that you don't have to search around for it at a point when your child may need immediate attention and you can't find the number. So having a visible, well-placed and strategically located poison control number is essential.

Pediatrician Alan Nager, MD, shares advice for parents on the signs that your child may have ingested something poisonous and that you should call poison control


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Alan Nager, MD, MHA

Pediatrician, Emergency Medicine, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Dr. Alan Nager is Head of the Division of Emergency and Transport Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Dr. Nager received his undergraduate degree in Public Heath and Child Psychology, his graduate degree in Healthcare Administration, his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and his training in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.  He has lectured extensively on a variety of emergency medicine topics, appeared numerous times in the media, and published extensively on topics such as dehydration, trauma, mental health, disaster preparedness, etc. He has also authored a children’s book entitled, Angels in Action: One Day in the Emergency Department.

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