BOX 5-1
Current Activities of Poison Control Centers

Phone consultation regarding individual exposures, potential exposures, or information

Public callers

Health care professionals

Capacity to respond to mass exposures or potential exposures

HAZMAT/occupational

Bioterrorism

Nonpoisoning exposures for which the poison control center may be the default information source

Contract services

Industry support

Data collection and reporting

Systematic reporting of exposures to a collective poison prevention and control database

Sentinel event reporting

Research

Toxicology

Health care delivery

Program evaluation

Quality improvement

Outcomes

Public education, in collaboration with public health agencies

Prevention

Use of the health care system

Professional education

Specialist in poison information and poison information provider training

Medical toxicologists

Continuing education of health care professionals

Other health care trainees

ACTIVITIES

Telephone Consultation

The primary activity of poison control centers in the United States is telephone consultation, providing direct services to the public, emergency medical services personnel, health care providers, and public health agencies (Zuvekas et al., 1997). These services depend on the rapid, efficient call handling by specialists with training in clinical toxicology, supported by medical toxicologists, consultants in subspecialty areas, and poison information databases. The general process of call management is illustrated in Figure 5-1 and will be discussed. The skill sets and training of



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