Spurred in part by a study that linked the increased use and abuse of prescription opioids to a rise in pain-pill related poisonings among young children, Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito announced at an April 11 news conference that he was introducing a program to educate parents and caregivers on the dangers of keeping certain types of medication in unsecured locations throughout the household.
Standing outside the Francis Hegarty Elementary School in Island Park and flanked by Island Park school officials and Town Medical Director Dr. David Neubert, D’Esposito used the findings to illustrate the need for such a program. “Poisonings from prescription medications are a major cause of death among children,” he said. “Children are getting into unlocked medicine cabinets or finding pill bottles.”
The study, published last month in the medical journal “Pediatrics,” found that the number of children between the ages 1 and 17 admitted to hospitals and pediatric intensive care units in the United States for opioid-related diagnoses nearly doubled to more than 1,500 in the period between 2012 to 2015, from the 797 cases recorded between 2004 and 2007. Researchers concluded that efforts to curtail opioid abuse in adults did not translate into fewer cases of accidental child ingestion of the drugs.
“The results can often be deadly,” D’Esposito said of the potential for harm. Among the suggestions he and Neubert had, were to keep all medication stored in a locked medical cabinet, and to properly dispose of them when they expire or are no longer needed.
D’Esposito also cited a recent official recommendation by the United States attorney general urging more Americans to carry naloxone — a drug that can prevent death in the case of an opioid overdose — as an inspiration for the program, which will be an expansion to the naloxone training sessions he hosts regularly throughout his district.
D’Esposito told the Herald that he intended to reach a different audience with the program, first partnering with the Island Park PTA at an April 23 meeting at the Lincoln Orens Middle School, and targeting other parents’ and caretaker groups where he might have the best chance of disseminating the potentially lifesaving tips. He invited other PTAs in his district to take part.
Although he did not give a timeline for the program, he said he would be hosting sessions for, “however long it takes.”