In an article published in the November 7 issue of the New York Times, Dr. Perri Klass explains how pediatricians, emergency room doctors and other health-care providers call poison center experts for advice about how to treat their patients who were exposed to poisons. She says, “When a child swallows the wrong thing, pediatricians call the poison center. From the emergency room. From the clinic. In the middle of the night when frantic parents call to say, ‘We found our little boy playing with the bottle of windshield wiper fluid. We don’t know if any of it was in his mouth.’”
In her November 10 Washington Post blog “On Parenting,” Janice D’Arcy relates a recent call she made to her local poison center after she discovered that her toddler had “found and sucked on a piece of adult medication.” D’Arcy says, “There are boatloads of services for parents. Many of them are free, some of them useful. Very, very few are on par with Poison Control.”
Both articles also raise the issue of funding for poison centers. As D’Arcy says, “The centers are in danger of losing funding. In March, Congress cut the federal contribution to the centers by about a quarter. Legislators are now considering deeper cuts ….”
And Dr. Klass says, “That could be bad news for both families and pediatricians: 51 percent of the more than two million calls the centers handled in 2010 involved children younger than 6.”
The fact is, poison centers save countless American lives and millions of American taxpayer dollars every year. They save lives by providing free and confidential poison treatment services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, the majority of people who call their poison center are helped at home without having to go to the doctor or the emergency room; that saves about $1 billion dollars in federal and state health-care costs each year. To look at it another way, every dollar invested in poison centers save about 7 dollars in unnecessary health-care costs.
Poison centers are a good deal for taxpayers, for the government, for health-care institutions, and – most importantly – for the public.
As our elected officials at the state and federal levels make difficult decisions about budgets over the next few months, it’s vital they carefully consider the impact of those decisions on the health and safety of every American. Please urge them to help safeguard our friends, neighbors and family members by supporting funding for poison centers.
Click here to read Dr. Klass’s article “Poison Centers Facing Greater Risks All Around.”
Click here to read Janice D’Arcy’s blog post “Poison Control Centers in Danger of Losing Funding.”
The American Association of Poison Control Centers supports the nation’s 57 poison centers in their efforts to prevent and treat poison exposures. Poison centers offer free, private, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We take calls in more than 150 languages and from the hearing impaired.
For questions about poison or if you think someone has been exposed to a poison, call 1-800-222-1222 to reach your local poison center.