TABLE 7-1 Roles for Data and Surveillance as Applied to Poison Prevention and Control




Outbreak/cluster identification

Public health agencies can assess, then respond with investigation

Arsenic poisoning in Maine

Implementing and evaluating prevention and control measures

Examining temporal association of changes in exposures in relation to programs

Poison Prevention Packaging Act implementation and assessment

Planning and managing resources

Providing adequate levels of poison prevention service

Tracking volume of contacts by time and day

Epidemiology, including identification of trends

Determining prevalence and detecting increases in types of poisonings

Annual reports of the AAPCC (TESS)

Identification of emerging problems

Multiple, including environmental and occupational

Pesticide-related illness and injury


Assessment of hazard to focus primary and secondary prevention

Acetaminophen overdose for Nonprescription Drug Advisory Board (September 2002)

public health, surveillance data can be useful for multiple purposes: (1) identifying and investigating outbreaks or clusters of diseases; (2) implementing and evaluating prevention and control measures; (3) planning and managing resources and establishing priorities; (4) identifying trends in occurrences of interest; and (5) identifying emerging problems or new populations at risk of disease (adapted from Calvert et al., 2001). Each of these types of needs is briefly described in Table 7-1 with examples relevant to poisoning prevention.


The following section describes the characteristics and the strengths and weaknesses of current data systems, beginning with the Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (TESS) and other poison-specific data sources, and followed by data sources derived from health records and health care datasets, other exposure-related data sources, and survey data sources. Table 7-2 provides a tabular description of these datasets. This review focuses on existing data resources, including national surveys, that have been designed at least in part for epidemiological tracking purposes or

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