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Common Poisonings in Children

by Brian Alverson, MD
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    00:01 In this lecture, we will review common poisonings in children.

    00:06 It’s important to remember that poisonings are more likely in children with different agents.

    00:13 So in children under five, typically, poisonings will be unintentional and they’ll be due to the child finding a poison and then accidentally drinking it.

    00:22 Or it can be from something such as a dosing error in medication where a parent misunderestimates the degree to which they should be dosing their child and then the child gets too much medication.

    00:34 Or it can be in the setting of child abuse.

    00:37 Perhaps, the patient was forced to take some horrible poison.

    00:41 In adolescents, more commonly, poisonings are a result of a suicide attempt.

    00:46 Or they could be a result of recreational substance abuse.

    00:51 So let’s go through a little bit what you want to check for when you have a patient who’s been poisoned.

    00:56 It’s important to try and get a sense of the timing and the amount of the drug.

    01:01 In adolescents, this can be particularly challenging.

    01:05 They don’t always volunteer which drugs they were taking and they can often present with polypharmaceutical drug overdose.

    01:13 Also, it’s important to calculate the range during which a patient may have taken the drug.

    01:21 Let me give you an example.

    01:22 If a patient was left alone at 8 p.m. in their room and then the parent came in at 11 p.m. and found them unconscious, you can assume that some time between 8 and 11, they took the drug.

    01:35 And you shouldn’t assume it was 11.

    01:38 And the reason for that is important because sometimes our management and treating these overdoses, especially with Tylenol have to do with knowing when the acute overdose occurred.

    01:50 So this may not necessarily be an accurate estimation and also probably won’t be accurate for child abuse situations.

    01:58 It’s important to do vital signs and do a thorough physical exam.

    02:02 Assess the mental status and also check pupillary size because pupillary size may give you some clues as to what the agent was that’s causing altered mental status.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Common Poisonings in Children by Brian Alverson, MD is from the course Pediatric Emergency Medicine. It contains the following chapters:

    • Common Poisonings
    • Aspirin Toxicity

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Dosing errors of medication by parents
    2. Suicide attempt
    3. Child abuse
    4. Recreation substance abuse
    5. Foreign body aspiration
    1. What is he wearing
    2. A detailed physical exam
    3. Assess mental status
    4. Check pupillary size
    5. Vital signs

    Author of lecture Common Poisonings in Children

     Brian Alverson, MD

    Brian Alverson, MD


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