Dr Yasir Sharif, Head of the Medication and Medical Product Safety Section , poses in front of shelve with poisonous substances. The MMPSS will be holding poison prevention week in October aimed at educating people about poisonous substances. Image Credit: DINA EL SHAMMAA/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Patient-specific and general inquiries regarding all aspects of medication use and overdoses are currently easily available as part of The Poison and Drug Information Center (PDIC).

The Poison and Drug Information Center (PDIC) has been formed by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) to offer advice regarding medication overdose or misuse of household products.

During their first year in 2009, the PDIC, who report to HAAD's Medication and Medical Product Safety Section (MMPSS), received more than 1,000 phone calls from Health Care Professionals (HCP) and various residents across the UAE, who were either requesting medication advice, or have been subjected to poisonous products.

Assistance

The PDIC team currently consisting a medical toxicologist and five pharmacists, who apart from being trained to assist each caller in less than 53 minutes, are fluent on protocols for treatment of major poisonous substances, and enquiry handling, through the assistance of data bases, and full access to on-line and print holding of medical and pharmacy periodicals.

In 2010, the number of phone calls to the PDIC increased by at least 30 per cent, out of which 50 per cent were related to incidents among children.

"Many exposures don't require hospital treatment, and can be managed at home with the guidance of the PDIC, and we make sure responses are prompt and helpful.

"For instance, we recently responded to helping 59 poisonous cases across the UAE," said Dr Yasir Sharif, Head of the MMPSS.

As part of their outreach programme, the MMPSS is organising a poison prevention week in October, where workshops regarding: irrational drug use, the use of poisonous house-hold products and pesticides, will be conducted to educate members of the public across schools, shopping malls, the UAE Red Crescent and the Abu Dhabi Women's Association.

Some of the commonly misused products, according to the MMPSS, include drugs (pain killers, cough and cold medication, antibiotics); household products (bleaches, detergents, floor cleaners, dirt removers); personal care (nail varnish, aftershave); and pesticides.

In addition, some of the poison prevention tips include storage of household cleaners, and medications to be kept in areas that children cannot access. Food and household detergent should not be placed in one place; and pesticides, gasoline, turpentine, as well as paint products should be locked in a designated area.

information centre

WHAT: About the Poison and Drug Information Centre (PDIC)

ROLE: To answer patient-specific and general inquiries regarding all aspects of medication use and overdoses, with medications or chemicals from the general public and health care professionals.

Contact Information:

Toll Free Number: 800-424

Hours: 7am-3pm, Sunday through Thursday

Voice mail for after working hours

Email: pdic@haad.ae

At a glance: Tips for first aid

Poisoning can be prevented if first aid steps are done properly within the first 15 to 20 minutes of exposure to the product. Alongside you should call the ambulance.

Home remedies:

Poison inhaled: immediately expose the person to fresh air, start artificial respiration.

Poison on skin: remove contaminated clothing, flood skin with water for 10 minutes, wash with soap and water, rinse well.

Poison in Eyes: Flood both eyes with warm water (not hot).

-  Direct shower stream to forehead, letting water run into both eyes for 15 minutes

- Have the person blink as much as possible while flooding the eyes

- Don't force the eyelid open

Poison Swallowed: If person isn't breathing start artificial respiration. If person is conscious, check to see if he/she can swallow. In some cases vomiting can cause more damage.

- If you have been poisoned due to a household product, place product in a plastic bag, and take it with you to the nearest hospital.

- Stay hydrated

- If you develop bloody diarrhoea and persistent vomiting, don't wait, visit the nearest hospital.

Source: PDIC