Poisoning case prompts Hong Kong doctors to warn public not to use adult products on children

Six-year-old girl suffers hallucinations after being given motion sickness patches meant for adults

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 8:05pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 10:39pm

Doctors have warned the public not to give children adult medication after a six-year-old girl was poisoned by motion sickness patches.

The rare case was revealed yesterday by the Hospital Authority’s Poison Information Centre.

The poisoned girl had two patches containing scopolamine – a medication conventionally used to treat motion sickness for adults – applied to the back of her ears last March, while on a school outing.

She was given the patches despite the product packaging clearly stating that only one patch should be used at a time, and for people aged 12 or above.

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The girl was sent to hospital after she started to display symptoms of confusion and visual hallucinations. The girl claimed she had been “seeing butterflies”.

The symptoms gradually dissipated after the patches were removed, the centre said.

Consultant at the centre Dr Tse Man-li said children were more likely overdose on products designed for adults.

“Experiments of the product were done on adult skin so it could be calculated how much medication would be absorbed into the blood through the skin...but that dosage on children could be too high,” Tse said, adding that a child’s skin is much thinner.

He warned that a scopolamine overdose could lead to blurred vision and difficulty to urinate.

Dr Chan Chi-keung, the centre’s associate consultant, said there are patches on the market that contain peppermint or natural essential oils that are suitable for children.