Poison control centers have been providing vital poison exposure and information services in the United States for more than 60 years. Answering close to three million calls a year, centers save countless lives and millions of tax dollars.
Currently, there are 55 poison control centers in the U.S. that collectively serve all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Federated States of Micronesia, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. These centers provide the following services to their designated geographic area:
Poison Help: 1-800-222-1222
Poison control centers provide free, confidential, and expert medical advice via the Poison Help hotline: 1-800-222-1222. Each center answers calls to Poison Help from a designated geographic area, including calls from the public, hospitals, EMTs, and other health care providers. All calls are answered by physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and other medical professionals with specific training in toxicology. This free and confidential service operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Public Education and Outreach
Poison control centers educate the public on poison safety and promote the use of the Poison Help hotline. Centers identify the specific poison topics and populations of greatest need in their geographic area. To request materials or learn about educational programming in your area, contact your local poison control center.
Health Professional Education
Poison control centers also provide education to current and future health professionals in the areas of emergency medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and more. Training and education programs typically cover various topics in toxicology, emerging drugs, and treatment of a poisoned patient.
With highly trained health professionals available by phone 24/7, poison control centers can provide numerous additional public health services. These services are determined by the needs and structure of the local public health infrastructure. Examples include: disaster preparedness and response, HAZMAT response, reportable disease monitoring, pill identification, and more.
Some centers prefer the term “poison control center” while others use “poison center.” There is no difference in the services or expertise offered by these centers.