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Poison Control Program

Poison Control Centers

  • Provide treatment advice, public and professional education, poisoning information and collect and provide timely data to assist in detection of a potential poisoning outbreak or potential biological event.
  • Offer ready access to services that have been proven to reduce severity of illness, death, and health care costs.
  • For every dollar spent on Poison Control Center services, $7 is saved in medical spending.
  • Medical costs savings occur because treatment guidance for the majority of poison exposures (over 70%) can be provided over the phone, therefore reducing emergency room visits, ambulance use and hospital admissions.

The Federal Program

The HRSA Poison Control Program provides:

  • Funding to stabilize and improve poison control centers across the U.S.
  • Programs to support the enhancement and improvement of poison education, prevention, and treatment,
  • Technical assistance to Poison Control Centers to support strategic planning, collaboration, data collection, media promotion, education outreach and financial stability activities.
  • Funding to assist uncertified centers become certified.

The Program is authorized through Public Law 108-194, the Poison Control Center Enhancement and Awareness Act, Amendments of 2003. This is an amendment to Public Law 106-174, which was enacted in 2000. The Act authorizes funds to Poison Control Centers serving all states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the American Samoa, in the following categories:

  • Financial stabilization grants to assist with financial stabilization and the improvement of services in Poison Control Centers that meet American Association of Poison Control Centers certification standards;
  • Certification grants to assist uncertified Poison Control Centers in efforts to attain American Association of Poison Control Centers certification; and
  • Incentive grants to provide funding to Poison Control Centers that are working collaboratively with other Poison Control Centers or with public health agencies to improve poison control systems and services.

In addition to authorizing financial assistance to Poison Control Centers , Public Law 108-194 authorizes funding for a single, national toll-free number (1-800-222-1222) to ensure universal access to Poison Control Centers services. This number connects callers with the Poison Control Centers serving the area from which the call is made. A national media campaign (The Poison Help Campaign) has also been developed and implemented. The campaigns goals are to educate the public about poisoning risks, expand awareness of the national toll-free hotline, and increase awareness of the national network of Poison Control Centers and the services they provide. This includes educating the public and health care providers about poison prevention, the availability of poison control resources and national toll-free number to local communities, the cost savings of utilizing a poison control center instead of going to the emergency department, and the role poison centers play as a source of information regarding terrorism preparedness.

Other activities supported by the Poison Control Program include:

  • Development of uniform patient management guidelines so that Poison Control Centers can provide uniform poison treatment recommendations.
  • Improvement of data collection systems and toxic exposure surveillance for enhanced capability to capture national poisoning data.
  • A study on the future of Poison Control Services in the United States conducted by the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (TESS) database to improve public health surveillance of chemical exposures and other potential health hazards. (not a U.S. government Web site)
  • Supporting Multilingual phone service to the 61 poison control centers across the country; providing interpreter services in 161 languages. This service will offer the opportunity for poison centers to provide quality services to underserved populations.
  • Establishing a partnership with the Home Safety Council (HSC) to develop poison prevention low literacy materials as part of the Home Safety Council Home Safety Literacy Project. (not a U.S. government Web site)



Poison Help

If you have a poisoning emergency, call

If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911.

The Toll-Free Number Provides:
  • Instant help, 24 hours a day, 7days a week
  • Trained Pharmacists and Nurses ready to assist you
  • Multilingual services
  • Free access
  • Confidentiality

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