"I'm hoping we can let physicians know they've only got two hours," Litovitz said. "By the time the parent gets to the [emergency department], they do the X-ray, they find a pediatric gastroenteroenterologist... they need to move quickly."
And because the diagnosis is easy to miss if the parent didn't witness the ingestion, physicians need to be vigilant about the possibility of a foreign body ingestion in young children.
Some things parents can do to help prevent battery ingestions include:
Storing batteries out of sight and out of reach of children. Don't let them play with batteries or with objects/devices whose batteries they might get into.
Trying to only buy products that have a child-resistant battery compartment, or ones that require a special tool like a screwdriver to open.
When that's not possible, being sure batteries in household devices are secure -- for example, you can cover the battery compartment on the remote control with strong tape.
Being particularly vigilant about hearing aids; family members with hearing aids will often remove the batteries when they take off the aids.
If your child does swallow a battery, Do not try to induce vomiting.
Call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333 (or your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222) immediately. You may be asked to provide the identification number from the battery package or a matching battery.
Go to nearest emergency department (and use caution getting there) -- bringing the battery packaging with you if it's available. Your child will need an X-ray to make sure the battery isn't lodged in the esophagus.
Don't let your child eat or drink anything until the X-ray is completed and the doctor says it's okay.
If the battery is in the ear or nose, your child will also need to go to the Emergency Department. Do not use eardrops or nose drops until the child has been seen by a doctor.
More tips and information can be found at www.poison.org/battery.