Context Button batteries (BBs) cause caustic injury if ingested or inserted with severe/fatal injuries predominantly affecting toddlers. They are ubiquitous, seemingly innocuous household items that power a myriad of products, from the essential to the inane. However, limiting exposure and access to BBs encompasses more than the domestic setting and requires much more than ‘buyer education’.
Process Understanding this issue has required collaborative sharing of data and epidemiological knowledge between Poisons services, clinicians, researchers, regulators, Coronial staff and families. In 2017, The Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit (APSU) began collating severe injuries related to BBs in children under 16 years, collecting data on the mode of access and product associated with the BB injury.
Analysis Data complied through APSU, case follow up and other Coronial/incident reports shows that BBs are frequently not purchased by the injured child’s family. They are often promotional giveaways, free medical devices, gifts or found items. If they are purchased by the child’s family, the purchaser was often unaware that there was a BB or that the BB was not secured/loose in the packet. In many instances, the source of the BB remains unknown.
Outcomes Detailed case analysis with a product safety/regulatory lens has scotched the notion that better buyer education in isolation will be effective in mitigating the risk of severe injury.
Learning Outcomes Cross-silo collaboration has allowed a more complex and complete understanding of this issue facilitating legislative change to make BBs packaging and products child resistant.