Minnesota Poison Control System: Educate Before You Medicate

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National Poison Prevention Week is March 19-25, 2017

The Minnesota Poison Control System and Minnesota Commissioner of Health, Dr. Edward Ehlinger, are reminding all Minnesotans that medications can be helpful but must be used and handled with care.

“Poisonings can happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone,” said Dr. Jon Cole, Medical Director of the Poison Center, “and over half of the poison exposures recorded in Minnesota last year were related to medications.”

The Commissioner has noted that drug-related overdoses have been an issue over the past several years, with 572 deaths occurring in Minnesota in 2015. “Many of these deaths were due to prescription medications rather than illegal street drugs. The fact that this epidemic is not slowing down shows just how important it is to increase awareness of this problem during National Poison Prevention Week,” Dr. Ehlinger stated.

“Health care providers have a responsibility to educate patients about the benefits and risks of any medications. This is especially important in light of rising opioid overdose deaths.”

Man taking prescription pills out of medicine cabinet

While much needs to be done to stop this epidemic, individuals can still make some simple changes. The Minnesota Poison Control System offers these tips for safe medication use, storage, and disposal:

  • Take medications carefully by following label instructions and having your pharmacist or doctor check for potential interactions between prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medicines.
  • Keep all medications up high and out of sight, preferably locked up.
  • Do not share medications with friends or family members, even if they have been prescribed the same type of medication.
  • Never take your medication in front of children, as they are likely to mimic.
  • Properly dispose of medications. Contact your county government for disposal options.
  • Educate yourself: Learn about poison prevention and Poison Center services. Take the new online training course available at training.mnpoison.org.

At 2:30 PM on Monday, March 20, 2017 the Minnesota Poison Control System is hosting a press conference at Hennepin County Medical Center to address medication safety.

Who:  Minnesota Poison Control System and Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger
What: “Educate Before You Medicate” Press Conference
When:  2:30 PM, Monday, March 20, 2017
Where: Hennepin County Medical Center, Lower Level, Red Building  (enter at 730 S. 8th Street, Minneapolis)

For questions or concerns about medications, please contact the Minnesota Poison Control System immediately at 1-800-222-1222. Services are free, confidential, and available 24/7. For general prevention tips and materials, follow them on Twitter @MNpoisoncenter or Facebook.