March 20-26 is National Poison Prevention Week
Did you know?
- Poisoning is the second leading cause of injury hospitalization and the third leading cause of injury death in Virginia.
- The most common poisons are things found readily in many homes, including medicines, cleaning products, pesticides, and plants.
- The center estimates it saved $11 million in healthcare spending in 2010 by helping Virginians treat poison exposures at home instead of visiting an emergency room.
- Featured News Story on NBC
The Blue Ridge Poison Center
The Blue Ridge Poison Center is here to help! Doctors and nurses are standing by 24 hours a day, every day. If you think someone has been poisoned…even if you aren’t sure…call 1-800-222-1222. All calls are free and confidential.
Like all accidents, poisoning can be prevented. Take steps to protect yourself and your family. Safety tips are available from the BRPC website: www.brpc.virginia.edu.
Request a FREE sticker or magnet to keep the Blue Ridge Poison Center number near every phone! Visit www.brpc.virginia.edu or call 1-800-222-1222.
More than a Hotline
While answering calls about possible poison exposures is what the University of Virginia Health System’s Blue Ridge Poison Center is best known for, it’s only part of their work to protect Virginians’ health and save money. The center estimates it saved $11 million in healthcare spending in 2010 by helping residents in central and western Virginia treat poison exposures at home instead of visiting an emergency room.
In addition to operating the center’s 24-hour, toll-free hotline – which received more than 31,000 confidential calls last year – staff members also serve as detectives, researchers and educators. As the center commemorates National Poison Prevention Week, here’s a look at some of the other roles it plays:
- Tracking substance abuse and poisoning trends: Working with a national network of poison centers, the center’s staff helps monitor which drugs are being abused, including new drugs like synthetic marijuana, as well as trends in accidental poisonings. The center is able to instantly share this information with healthcare providers, law enforcement and public health officials as necessary, though individual cases remain confidential.
- Researching treatments for Virginia-specific poisons: One benefit of having a regionally based poison center is the ability to focus on poisons unique to Virginia such as the venom from timber rattlesnakes, says medical toxicologist Christopher Holstege, MD, the center’s medical director. “Their venom can’t be addressed by the standard antivenom. The question is why?” he says. Holstege and his fellow UVA medical toxicologists are researching new treatments for these snakebites.
- Helping prevent poisonings: The center’s public educators – Sue Kell and Kristin Wenger – made 135 public presentations on poison center awareness and preventing poisonings in 2010. “We’ll make presentations to preschoolers one day and senior citizens the next day,” Wenger said. Additional awareness and educational information is available at www.brpc.virginia.edu.
Access to the center’s certified poison experts is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 800.222.1222 (800.451.1428 from cell phones).
Virginia residents should call the poison center right away, even if there are no symptoms, if someone:
- Made a mistake with their medicine.
- Swallowed something they shouldn’t have swallowed.
- Spilled or sprayed a product on their skin or in their eyes.
- Breathed a poisonous gas or fume.