As many as one-fourth of the poisoning cases reported in the Tricity in 2012 were because of the therapeutic poisoning, which means an excessive intake of medicines available at home, according to a study conducted by the Department of Forensic Medicine at PGIMER, along with the Panjab University.
In all, 406 cases of poisoning were reported during the year. Of them, 25.4 per cent were cases of therapeutic poisoning. While 78 people took medicines accidentally, 23 people consumed medicines with suicidal intentions and one was a homicide case, says the study.
Among the medicines which caused poisoning were crocin, amoxycillin, disprin, cough syrups and homeopathic medicines which are commonly regarded as harmless.
“The most common reason behind therapeutic poisoning is that people are not keeping medicines in safe places, or out of the reach of the children. Any medicine, if not taken according to the prescription of the doctor, is a poison,” said Dr Bikash Medhi, Deputy Medical Superintendent of PGIMER.
Dr Amarjeet Singh, Professor in Community Medicine at PGIMER, who was associated with the study, said, “Our home has several poisonous products that we are not even aware of. Accidental consumption or otherwise of these products can be fatal.’’
As per him, among such products are insecticides, pesticides, cosmetics, deodorants, hair care products and lotions.
“We have found that 97 per cent housewives, 90 per cent children, 88 per cent unemployed people, 81 per cent servicemen and 80 per cent students covered in the study consumed poison at their homes,” said Dr Dalbir Singh, head of the Forensic Science Department at PGIMER.
Further, more cases of poisoning came from nuclear families than from joint families. Of the 334 acute poisoning cases, 266 were from nuclear families.
He said that if one took precautions at home, and kept poisonous substances locked or out of the reach of children, then many cases of acute poisoning could be avoided.
The study also found that the consumption of poisonous substances with suicidal intent was the highest at home (82.3 per cent), followed by social gatherings (8.6 per cent), workplace (5.2 per cent) and least at the markets (3.9 per cent). Also, the maximum number of suicidal attempts were made between 6 pm and 12 midnight.