Poison Control Centers Save Lives, Money, Physicians Say


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What do you do when your child eats an entire bottle of chewable Tylenol? When it happened to a young patient of Scot Morris, MD, a Brownwood pediatrician and member of Texas Medical Association’s (TMA) Committee on Child and Adolescent Health, he called the Texas Poison Center Network (TPCN) for input, who helped save the child’s life.

By offering “prompt, expert advice,” Dr. Morris said “poison control was instrumental in managing this case and probably helped my patient avoid a liver transplant.”

TPCN is an essential resource that Texas physicians want every family to know about, especially since unintentional poisoning death rates have risen steadily since 1992, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. TPCN is made up of six poison control centers around the state, forming a hotline network available by phone. Together, the centers keep Texans out of emergency departments and save the health care system millions of dollars each year. That’s because 70 percent of human poisoning calls are treatable at home, avoiding far more costly hospital or doctor’s office visits.

By calling (800) 222-1222, anyone in Texas — even rural residents miles away from the nearest hospital — can reach physicians, nurses, paramedics, and pharmacists specially trained in toxicology 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round. It’s “one of the best investments out there,” says Miguel Fernandez, MD, medical director of the South Texas Poison Center.

TPCN is indispensable for adult poisonings as well as child poisonings. When a military hospital called his poison center after a young woman overdosed on methotrexate and wasn’t breathing, Dr. Fernandez consulted on the call and helped the physicians revive the woman.

“I was able to relay my expert medical recommendations to the doctors in real time, and they brought her back,” he said.  

For more information on the integral part TPCN plays in Texas health care, as well as the funding cuts that threaten the viability of the network, check out the September issue of Texas Medicine magazine (page 27).

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing nearly 46,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

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Sept. 20, 2012  


Contact: Pam Udall
phone: (512) 370-1382
cell: (512) 413-6807

Brent Annear
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320