Poisoning involving medications

Last updated: 05/03/2023

First aid treatment

If you discover a person who has been poisoned by ingesting medications, a few actions could save their life:

  • Unblock the victim’s airway (blockages may be caused by vomiting etc.) and place them on their side in the recovery position
  • If they have stopped breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
  • Contact the fire and emergency service immediately on 18 or 112, or the emergency department at Princess Grace Hospital on 97 98 97 69
  • Monitor the victim until the emergency services arrive

Inform the emergency services

Every minute gained is precious for providing assistance to the person who has been poisoned. During your call, remember to provide:

  • The exact reason for your call
  • The telephone number you are calling from
  • Your location, including key information such as the number, the entry code, the staircase
  • The name of the medication
  • The quantity ingested
  • Possible ingestion of alcohol
  • Associated symptoms, particularly those which indicate whether the person is conscious or not

Precautions to prevent medications poisoning

The elderly and children are the primary victims of too many poisonings caused by medications. Many of these could be avoided.

Medicines are responsible for one in two poisoning incidents, leading to 128,000 hospitalisations in France every year. According to statistics, between 30–60% of these incidents could be avoided.

Among adults, poisoning is usually voluntary (suicide) and the consequences depend on the quantity ingested and the nature of the products. Very often, the person becomes drowsy and/or vomits.

Here are some simple precautions

  • Educate your child using images (TV adverts, magazines...)
  • Follow the instructions on the prescription
  • Never leave medicines where children can reach them

Install safety devices

  • Simple door safety catch
  • Door locks for low units
  • Drawer safety catches
  • Safety barrier for kitchen door

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