Poison Prevention Week – March 16-22

NATIONAL POISON PREVENTION WEEK

Poison Prevention Week is March 16th – 22rd.

Both locally and nationally, drug overdose continues to be the leading cause of unintentional fatalities, causing more deaths than auto accidents or firearms.  Poison centers continue to be the focal point for prevention and treatment of these exposures, with over 3 million people every year contacting poison centers nationally to report a poisoning.  The vast majority of these cases can be handled in the home with the help of a poison center’s specially trained staff.

Not only is treatment in the home better for the patient, but it’s dramatically better economically for our entire health care system.  A recent study found that poison centers saved our health care system a total of $1.82 billion in 2011; and for every $1 spent on our poison centers, our health care system saves $13.39.  That’s a great return on an investment in public health.  And this “investment” in poison centers which saves all this money comes at a cost of only 43 cents per U.S. resident per year.

Unfortunately, we still get many calls from emergency departments regarding a patient who could have been safely treated at home, but came to the ED without contacting us first.  So we know that many people are either not aware of the importance of contacting us immediately in the case of an exposure, or they don’t know how to reach us.

One of the best ways you can help with both of those situations is the continued promotion of the national poison hotline: 1-800-222-1222.  Calling this number from anywhere in the U.S. immediately connects the caller with the appropriate poison control center for their location, much like the 911 system.  This one number gives people simple access to emergency poison information whether they are at home or traveling on vacation or business, and is especially important for a regional center like ours that covers several areas across the state.

Thank you for supporting our efforts in this critical area of health care.  With your help we can make an even greater difference in both the outcomes for patients and the cost of health care for our communities.

Materials to enhance poison prevention awareness are available via the following links:

If you have a passion for Injury, Violence and/or Poison Prevention and you would like to get involved, please contact Sarah Denny, MD or Mike Gittelman, MD.