We have all felt the frustration of a Child-Lock in a car door, a baby gate atop the stairs, or a child-proof prescription pill bottle. It is easy to take these public safety inventions for granted when they inconvenience our own activities, but the origins of Child-Proof medicine containers come from a major public health issue that endangered hundreds of thousands of children every year. Advocay and outreach with mothers and fathers was not working, though nonprofit money and resources were given to public education on the issue.
In the 1960s more than 100 children lost their lives to accidental pill ingestion. Children were hospitalized for being poisoned by prescription drugs roughly 100,000 times every year and only survived after a painful and traumatic stomach pumping technique. This was a nearly weekly occurrence for the Pediatric M.D. Dr. Henri Breault in Ontario, Canada. His wife recalls him coming home from work early in the morning and exclaiming that he would solve this issue.
This fits with the Problem-Solving creativity model of Sawyer’s research. Dr. Breault found his problem quickly, as it was one frequently troubling him in his field of work. Despite development delays and unsuccessful prototypes, in 1967 Dr. Breault collaborated with the ITL Industries President, Mr. Peter Hedgewick, to develop the final product. Soon after the locked lid was made mandatory in Canada and then the United States.
The caps were a success, dropping accidental poisonings by 91%. The “Palm N Turn” was a sensational life saver in North America that inspired more safety measures for prescription drugs. The FDA and AMA passed regulations and Congress passed a Poison Prevention Packaging Act which applied to both medication and cleaning chemicals. This is an incredible example of creativity solving problems through collaboration and emotional investment.