Poisoning - how to reduce hospital admissions

Every year 25,000 under 5s are rushed to A&E with suspected poisoning. One in five cases – 15 every day – are serious enough for the child to be admitted to hospital.

Find out how a new CAPT DVD resource pack can help frontline staff give practical advice on preventing poisoning and so reduce the numbers of children admitted to hospital from accidental poisoning.

The financial and emotional costs of poisoning to the NHS

Poisoning to children under 15 costs the NHS a staggering £2 million spent every year.*

From our interview with Dr Joe Brierley, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist from Great Ormond Street Hospital we know that the costs and effects of a child suffering from bleach ingestion will include:

  • Damage to the gullet
  • A number of operations which will continue until adult life
  • Significant healthcare costs to the individual
  • Huge emotional costs of the burden of guilt to the family

Poisoning to children – the facts

  • Each day, 15 under fives are admitted to hospital UK-wide because it’s suspected they’ve swallowed something poisonous.
  •  In 2008-09, over 4,000 under-fives were admitted to hospital in England with actual or suspected poisoning.
  • Every year 48 children are admitted to hospital from carbon monoxide poisoning in the home.
  • Medicines are by far the most common cause of admissions for poisoning, with everyday painkillers a frequent culprit. Household cleaning products are another important cause of admissions for poisoning.
  • Child-resistant caps are never childproof. They slow children down but some three and four-year olds can open them in seconds.
  • Accidental poisoning can cause a great deal of harm to young children, as their bodies are small and still developing.
  • Poisoning is a particular risk for under fives who are naturally inquisitive: pills that look like sweets and brightly-coloured detergents are hugely attractive to them.

Preventing poisoning DVD

To help frontline staff give practical advice on poisons prevention to parents of under fives, focusing on medicines, cleaning products and carbon monoxide, CAPT has produced a DVD on preventing poisoning called Toxic Tales.

Toxic Tales includes:

  • a 15-minute DVD film featuring the stories of three parents
  • footage from a child’s perspective;and
  • an interview with Dr Joe Brierley, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The resource pack includes support cards to facilitate group discussions, with facts and figures, information on the links between poisoning and child development, key safety messages, ideas for discussion sessions and support for impact evaluation.

It also includes 25 of each of two related flyers which can easily be replenished for different groups.

Toxic Tales: preventing childhood poisoning can be ordered now by going to CAPT online shop, emailing sales@capt.org.uk or calling 020 7608 7367.

The packs cost £36 including VAT and excluding P&P of £9.45.

Watch Dr Joe Brierley's interview

More information on poisoning

*Based on the cost of an emergency paediatric bed day at £290 and the UK estimate of annual hospital admissions of under 15s from poisoning at 7,160.

Updated January 2013