At the heart of the Committee’s proposal for a Poison Prevention and Control System is the integration of the current network of poison control centers into the broader public health system. As discussed in Chapter 9, the accountability for the establishment and maintenance of a population-based poison prevention and control system is currently diffuse, involving multiple levels of government. Although there are several programs or components within public health agencies that are relevant to poison prevention and control, some of which currently interact with the poison control centers, there is no clarity concerning the roles of each entity in the integrated system. This has resulted in inefficient interactions among federal, state, and local public health agencies and poison control centers that have limited their potential contributions to prevention of poisoning and promotion of health.
To achieve the ultimate goal of preventing poisonings, as well as to improve the outcomes for those who are poisoned, the Committee envisions the need for a clear, single point of accountability at each level of government. The responsible agencies would assure the accomplishment of all the public health core functions or essential services as they relate to poison prevention and control. This does not mean that the responsible agencies would perform all the functions within their respective agencies. However, they would (1) take responsibility for developing the plan to accomplish the activities needed to assure that the system is in place, with a set of uniform standards across the country; (2) convene and work with the other agencies, including the existing poison control center network, to implement the plan; and (3) work in partnership to develop a set of performance standards for all components of the system. One possible model for the development of performance measures for a state-federal partnership is the Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block Grant, which is administered by states, and the federal grants for MCH activities, which are administered by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau in HRSA. This partnership has been in place for 5 years and has successfully developed and implemented performance criteria and data reporting mechanisms.
3. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the states should establish a Poison Prevention and Control System that integrates poison control centers with public health agencies, establishes performance measures, and holds all parties accountable for