Online platform for poison data

La Femme Correspondent

THE Poisons Information Centre at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town has begun to move the centre’s valuable database of poisons treatment for children and adults onto an online platform.

The migration to an internet platform means that vital information will be more widely and easily accessible to doctors around the country.

This will enable them to find the correct treatment for children and adults with poison injuries much faster than before, thus allowing for a quicker diagnosis and ultimately a greater chance of saving lives.

The Children’s Hospital Trust, fundraiser for the hospital and paediatric healthcare in the Western Cape, is raising the R3.1-million required for the redevelopment of the current information system, moving the database from a CD-based system to a web-based platform.

The hospital is the only dedicated specialist paediatric hospital in southern Africa. It has more than a quarter of a million patient visits each year, most from poor and marginalised communities and a third babies of a year or less.

The Eastern Cape sends patients to Red Cross, along with the rest of South Africa, Africa and in rare instances, the rest of the world.

The hospital provides training to paediatric health care professionals from the entire sub-continent and does important research into the illnesses of childhood.

In developing countries, 5% of injury-related deaths in children are as a result of poisonings.

Children aged one to two years old are most at risk of accidental poisoning as they are exploratory in nature but too young to understand the dangers of ingesting potentially poisonous substances.

In South Africa, children are most commonly exposed to medicines.

However, paraffin ingestion is a very common cause of poisoning in children from poorer communities. In adults, poisoning is more often self-inflicted or as a result of industrial accidents.

The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is the only institution in South Africa that gathers and collates poisons information at its Poisons Information Centre.

There are only two 24-hour emergency poison lines available to the South African public and these are based at the Tygerberg and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospitals. Both hospitals use the database at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital as their source of information.

The main role of the Poisons Information Centre is to collect, collate and distribute information on toxic substances. This is done so that patients with known or suspected poisoning may receive appropriate treatment.

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