Death by Misprint?

By Gail Banach MS, IDDE, MS, Ed, BA
Director of Public Education & Communications, Upstate New York Poison Center

The famous Mark Twain once said, “Be careful of reading health books, you may die from a misprint.” The same may be said of reading health information on the Internet.

While parents regularly call Poison Control about things that are surely poisonous, like medicine or bleach, with more questionable items, like cigarette butts or silica gel crystals, parents often turn to the Internet for their answer.

We conducted a Google search! In addition to inaccurate information about poisonings, we found sites that still recommend using syrup of ipecac or activated charcoal for a poisoning at home. Since 2003, the American Academy of Physicians and thereafter the American Association of Poison Centers have recommended neither be used for a poisoning in the home!

Websites may or may not contain reliable information and even if generally reliable, they may not contain the most up to date information. Additionally, Poison Specialists are trained to listen and ask questions to help solve the problem.
They may provide related information or precautions. Through accurate and effective recommendations, Poison Centers are able to manage 86% of calls at home without a costly visit to the Emergency Department.

Please be aware, it is easier to dial Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 than it is to type “are those little packets you get in new shoes, poisonous?” or any other question. In dialing the 1-800-222-1222 number from anywhere in the United States, you will speak with a trained Poison Information Specialist, available 24 hours every day to take your call. They are experts in poisons, with all the necessary resources at their fingertips to help you with any poison questions.

So next time even if you think the poison was swallowed, breathed in, or splashed on someone’s skin or eyes, the poison center experts will tell you what to do next. Call the experts at Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222. We’ll be waiting for your call.

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