Greater awareness needed: Dangers of button battery ingestion

07 Apr 2016

If swallowed, lithium button batteries (also known as ‘disc batteries’) can cause serious chemical burns or death.

The Queensland Coroner’s report on the death of four-year-old Summer Steer, who died after swallowing a two-centimetre button battery, has highlighted the need for health practitioners to be aware of the dangers these products present to patients if ingested, and be better equipped to handle suspected cases.

Included in the coroner’s recommendations was for AHPRA to ‘raise awareness amongst clinicians, pharmacists, and radiographers in relation to emerging product safety issues such as button battery ingestion by emailing a brief description of the issue and providing a link to the ACCC reporting site and the Poisons Information Centre’.

In response to this recommendation:

  • AHPRA has worked with the National Boards to increase awareness as recommended by the coroner including:
    • publishing a summary of the findings and the recommendations on the Recommendations from the Coroner page on the AHPRA website
    • providing an article on the report and its recommendations for inclusion in the National Board newsletters (as they are released). The Medical Board newsletter included the article in the December 2015 issue, and
    • social media posts with video link to the ACCC video link were posted to the AHPRA Facebook and Twitter page on 12 January. The video was one of the most popular for the month and reached 3,488 people.

For more information

  • To view the Coroner’s report and recommendations in full, visit the Queensland Court’s website.
  • For poisons information about battery ingestion and injuries, call the Poisons Information Centre national line on 13 11 26 (24 hours, 7 days).
  • For more information about the local Poisons Information Centres, please refer to their websites:
  • To report unsafe products go to the ACCC reporting page.
  • For information about the dangers of battery ingestion, go to the ACCC button battery page.
 
 
Page reviewed 7/04/2016