Ingestion of Toxic Substances by Infants and Children

Wilkerson, Robin; Northington, LaDonna; Fisher, Wanda
August 2005
Critical Care Nurse;Aug2005, Vol. 25 Issue 4, p35
Academic Journal
This article examines various issues concerning deaths of infants and children due to unintentional poisoning and the role of nurses in caring for a child who has been exposed to a toxic substance. The responsibility for prevention lies within the nursing community to educate itself and others within the community who care for infants and children. Nurses must be aware of the potential dangers associated with commonly used medications. When administering medications to infants and children, and when teaching parents to administer medications, nurses must be absolutely sure of correct dosages. When infants and children are admitted to healthcare facilities after possible exposure to toxic substances, nurses must be gentle in their approach. Nurses should impart information without adding guilt to parents who are already stressed. Nurses are liable if they give a wrong medication, even if it was ordered. In intensive care units, medications given to infants and children are almost exclusively injectable or oral liquids. Nurses must take special care to eliminate therapeutic errors. If an unintentional poisoning or therapeutic error occurs, the goals are to stabilize and prevent complications related to the exposure, return the child to optimal health, and minimize future exposures.


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