Healthy People 2010 - With Annotations
Clinical Preventive Care
1-12. Establish a single toll-free telephone number for access to poison control centers on a 24-hour basis throughout the United States.
Poison control centers (PCCs) are staffed on a 24-hour basis by toxicologists and specialists in poison information who respond to requests from the general public and health care professionals for immediate information and treatment advice about poisonings and toxic exposures. Local or toll-free telephone calls to PCC hotline numbers provide primary access to these services. Each year more than 2 million callers seek telephone assistance from PCCs throughout the United States.(63) When a caller reports a poisoning or toxic exposure, a PCC toxicologist or specialist in poison information assesses the severity of the incident, advises the caller about treatment, and makes referrals for further medical attention when necessary. PCCs respond to inquiries in languages other than English by using language-translation services, interpreters, or bilingual staff members. PCCs manage most incidents by providing telephone advice to a caregiver at home, avoiding the need for more costly care at a hospital emergency department or another health care facility.
Linking all PCCs in the United States through a single toll-free telephone number and consolidating several key PCC functions can make contacting PCCs easier and more cost-effective.(64, 65) When PCCs are linked through a common telephone number, callers can be routed automatically to the nearest PCC based on their area code, telephone exchange number, and ZIP Code. Educational efforts could focus on a single easy-to-remember emergency number that permits callers to access PCCs quickly. Incorporating all PCCs under the umbrella of a toll-free nationwide telephone number will help ensure access to poison control services when and where they are needed.
Rev. 20-Aug-2001 at 07:20 hours.