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July 12, 1976

Prevention of Poisoning

Author Affiliations

Childrens Orthopedic Hospital and Medical Center Seattle

JAMA. 1976;236(2):139. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270020013005

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To the Editor.—  Copans' recent comment (235:373, 1976) on Arena's points for poison prevention and his addition of an eighth measure certainly is timely in identifying a "causative" factor but unsubstantiated in identifying a remedy. Both data and intuition support the thesis that accidental poisonings are a function of parental psychopathology in disturbed family relationships. However, only enthusiasm supports the tenet that Copans' measure does in fact result in any prevention. At our Center and in our community, we have looked for evidence of effectiveness of such measures but found none—despite a sizeable effort and cost.Isn't it appropriate to insist that the same criteria be required for proposed "preventive medicine" as for "therapeutic medicine" ie, that not simply must one demonstrate the absence of harmful effects but, most important, one must substantiate the presence of beneficial ones. Just doing something is no longer enough. Otherwise scarce resources—dollars, time and