The effect of providing ipecac to families seeking poison-related services

Laurie Rennie Schnell, Robert R. Tanz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Although home availability of ipecac is recommended for families with young children in case of unintentional toxic ingestion, fewer than half actually have it. We designed a study to evaluate the efficacy of providing ipecac to families requiring poison-related services. Families (n = 100) contacting the Children’s Memorial Hospital (CMH) emergency department (ED)/poison center were enrolled. Baseline general poison knowledge and self-report of ipecac availability were obtained. Ipecac was discussed, and families were mailed general safety and poison information, the ED telephone number, and a coded package of ipecac, with instructions. Approximately three months later a follow-up call was made to determine change in knowledge, access to our ED (or any poison center) phone number, and availability of ipecac. Initially 71% had heard of ipecac, 51% knew what it did, and 47% said they had it. Ninety families were contacted in follow-up, 82 by phone and eight by mail. Eighty-three of 90 (92%) knew what ipecac did (vs 51/100 initially; Ρ < 0.0001). Sixty-eight of 90 (76%) knew the ED or a poison control phone number (vs 39/100 initially; Ρ < 0.0001). Seventy-seven of 82 (94%) reached by phone read the ipecac code number (vs 47/100 initial self-reports of possession; Ρ < 0.0001). The data indicate that providing ipecac to poison service users increases availability in the home for at least three months. Poison service users may be particularly amenable to anticipatory guidance and interventions related to poisoning prevention and preparedness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-39
Number of pages4
JournalPediatric emergency care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1993


  • Anticipatory guidance
  • Compliance
  • Health education
  • Injury prevention
  • Syrup of ipecac

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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