Ingestion of Over-the-Counter Liquid Medications
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Ingestion of Over-the-Counter Liquid Medications

Filetype[PDF-70.31 KB]

  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      Am J Prev Med
    • Description:

      Unintentional medication ingestions by young children lead to nearly 60,000 emergency department (ED) visits annually; 15% involve oral liquid medications. Safety packaging improvements have been shown to limit liquid medication ingestions. Estimated rates of ED visits for pediatric ingestions by product were calculated to help target interventions.


      Frequencies and rates of ED visits for unintentional pediatric ingestions were estimated using adverse event data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance project and retail sales/pharmacy dispensing data from Information Resources, Inc. and QuintilesIMS (collected 2012–2015; analyzed 2017). Rates of ED visits for ingestions of over-the-counter (OTC) liquid medications were compared with those for prescription solid medications.


      Based on 568 cases, an estimated 6,427 ED visits (95% confidence interval: 4,907–7,948) were made annually after a child <6 years accessed one of the four most commonly implicated OTC liquid medications without caregiver oversight. Nearly two-thirds (63.8%) of these visits were made by children aged ≤2 years and 9.0% resulted in hospitalization. Acetaminophen was the most commonly implicated OTC liquid medication (2,515 estimated ED visits annually). Rates of ED visits for liquid diphenhydramine and acetaminophen ingestions (8.1 and 7.4 ED visits per 100,000 bottles sold) were higher than rates for other common OTC liquids and comparable to high rate prescription solid medications (clonidine and buprenorphine/naloxone [11.1 and 10.5 ED visits per 100,000 dispensed prescriptions]).


      Product-specific rates of ED visits for unintentional ingestions can help prioritize preventive interventions, such as enhancing safety packaging with flow restrictors.

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