Toxic Exposure

Pearls of Wisdom: How to Handle Poinsettia Ingestion

  • A 26-year-old woman calls in on Christmas morning about her 2-year-old son who has just ingested a handful of red poinsettia leaves. He is asymptomatic and acting normally. 

    What is the best course of action?

    A. Administer ipecac immediately

    B. Reassure the mother

    C. Send the child immediately to the nearest emergency room

    D. Administer 4 ounces of whole milk as an antidote


    What is the correct answer?

    (Answer and discussion on the next page)

    Louis Kuritzky, MD, has been involved in medical education since the 1970s. Drawing upon years of clinical experience, he has crafted each year for almost 3 decades a collection of items that are often underappreciated by clinicians, yet important for patients. These “Pearls of Wisdom” often highlight studies that may not have gotten traction within the clinical community and/or may have been overlooked since their time of publishing, but warrant a second look.