advice; referral assistance; and comprehensive information on poisons and toxins, poison prevention, and the safe and proper use of medications (APDIC, 2005). As another example, along with counseling on poison-related events, the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center provides health and safety information on the safe and effective use of medications, adverse reactions, drug interactions, and drug use during pregnancy and lactation (RMPDC, 2006). Pharmaceutical companies contract with the center to provide their customers 24-hour access to medical information, to collect information on adverse drug events, and to meet other regulatory requirements. The Denver Health Nurse Line also is part of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, providing 24-hour access to medical triage for health concerns. Potentially, a combination of existing funds from local, state, and private sources could be used, together with additional allocations from private and federal sources, to finance such expansion of poison control centers nationwide.

A drawback to this approach may be the question of whether most poison control centers are adequately funded and structured to handle drug information and counseling services. Currently most are not, but they can be. The 2004 IOM report Forging a Poison Prevention and Control System highlighted many of the issues involved, citing financial instability, lack of network or systems infrastructure (each operates independently), lack of effective links to the nation’s public health system, and data collection that operates through a proprietary system (IOM, 2004e). The report made several recommendations for improvement, many of which have yet to be implemented. Policy makers should revisit the recommendations of this report in evaluating possibilities for development of the proposed drugline.

The federal government should undertake a full evaluation of various methods for building a national network of drug information helplines and develop strategies for their ongoing funding and financing. Knowledge gained from the successful telephone intervention and helpline support programs mentioned above can be incorporated into the strategy for developing these centers, along with other guidance outlined in Box 4-9. The druglines should include a mechanism for consumers to report ADEs and medication errors.

Personal Health Records

Emerging information and communications technologies have great potential to improve consumers’ self-management of their health and health conditions (Markle Foundation, 2005). Over the last 5 years, several initiatives have been launched to develop and market computerized personal health records (PHRs) as a viable technology to support self-management. In general, PHRs were intended to function as an extension of electronic health



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