By Tamas Mondovics
There are many heroes that make the difference daily. Some are more visible, while others do much behind the scenes.
One of such entity is the Tennessee Poison Center (TPC), which receives hundreds of calls daily. Its certified physicians, pharmacists, registered nurses, and a board-certified physician toxicologist provide free medical information for
poison emergencies 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
According to TPC in 2018, the Center, housed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, received more than 106,000 calls, including initial cases and follow-up calls, and saved an estimated
$10 million by preventing emergency room visits for the underinsured, thus
saving taxpayers, insurance companies and hospitals money.
TPC officials emphasized that of those calls, 50 percent involved children five years old and younger and approximately 60 percent of exposure calls involved pharmaceuticals. Other common poison exposures included cleaning products and cosmetics.
“Children are naturally curious, and it is so easy to turn your back for a minute with familiar bottles around such as Tylenol or Motrin,” said Donna Seger, MD, executive director of the Tennessee Poison Center. “The staff at the TPC telephone hotline are trained nurses, pharmacists, and physicians who quickly determine whether the dose is non-toxic, and whether the child can stay at
home or needs to be
taken to the emergency department.”
TPC is the only poison center in Tennessee and provides their 24/7 medical hotline to 95 counties and is a member of the Tennessee State Department of Health Commissioner’s Council on Injury Prevention, a group of organizations throughout the state who collaborate to reduce injury deaths in Tennessee.
The Tennessee Poison Center has been a phone call away for more than 30 years and continues to offer its services to more than six million Tennesseans. It is partially funded under a grant
contract with the State of Tennessee.
“The Tennessee Poison Center provides an invaluable service to Tennessee residents that not only saves them time and money from unnecessary trips to the emergency room but saves lives by providing 24-hour access to medical information during a crisis,” Seger said.
In the case of suspecting a poisoning, call Tennessee Poison Center for treatment advice. The Poison Help toll-free number is 1-800-222-1222. All calls are fast, free and confidential.
The Top 10 Counties for Exposures in 2018:
Information from the TPC’s 2018 Annual Report