Press Release

American Association of Poison Control Centers Releases 32nd Annual Report of the National Poison Data System

December 1, 2015 | Download PDF

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The recently published 32nd Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS) reveals that in 2014, someone called a poison center about every 11 seconds. America’s poison centers managed almost 3 million cases, over two million of which were human exposure cases.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) maintains the National Poison Data System, the data repository for the nation’s 55 poison centers. Developed in 1983, NPDS contains information on more than 60 million poison exposures mapped to a products database of over 419,000 specific products. “NPDS is the only comprehensive, near real-time poisoning surveillance database in the United States,” said James Mowry, PharmD, DABAT, FAACT, lead author of the report. “Data from the 2014 Annual Report support the continued value of poison centers expertise and need for their specialized medical toxicology information and treatment advice.”

Approximately half of all human exposure cases managed by poison centers in 2014 involved children younger than six years, but as in previous years, many of the more serious cases occurred among adolescents and adults. While overall incoming call volume to poison centers continues to decrease, cases with more serious clinical outcomes (moderate, major, or death) have increased by 4.29 percent per year since 2000. “The fact is that despite an overall decrease in calls to poison centers in 2014, poisoning continues to be the number one cause of injury-related death in the country, and with the proportion of more clinically serious exposures managed by poison centers increasing, poison centers are more important to America’s health care system than ever before,” said Mowry.

In 2014, around 57 percent of all exposure cases involved pharmaceuticals. Common scenarios for unintentional pharmaceutical exposures included inadvertent double-dosing, wrong medication taken or given, other incorrect dosage, doses given/taken too close together, and inadvertent exposure to someone else’s medication. Other exposures were to household products, plants, mushrooms, pesticides, animal bites and stings, carbon monoxide, and many other types of non-pharmaceutical substances. Ingestion was the route of exposure in almost 80 percent of the cases in 2014. However, people were also exposed to potentially dangerous substances via the lungs, skin, eyes, and other routes. Similar to previous years, the majority of human exposures managed by poison centers in 2014 were unintentional. Intentional exposures accounted for 17 percent of total cases, with suicidal intent suspected in 11 percent of those cases.

Also similar to previous years, in 2014 most calls to poison centers originated from a residence, and the majority of exposures were treated at the site of exposure. “Despite the high volume of calls poison centers received on average each day, approximately 68 percent of the 2.2 million exposure cases were treated at the exposure site, saving millions of dollars in medical expenses,” said Stephen T. Kaminski, JD, AAPCC CEO and Executive Director. “In fact, poison centers save Americans more than $1.8 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity. In addition, the poison control system is extremely cost-efficient. It takes just $0.43 a year per U.S. resident to fund the nation’s entire poison control system—55 centers staffed 24/7 by experts tirelessly providing free services. That’s less than $2 to provide vital poison control services to a family of four.”

In 2014, 21 percent of exposure calls came from health care facilities. “Calls to poison centers originating from health care facilities are an increasingly significant proportion of overall poison center exposure call volume, speaking to the increasing clinical complexity of the types of cases that the experts at poison centers help to manage,” said Jay L. Schauben, PharmD, DABAT, FAACT, report author, Director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Jacksonville, and current AAPCC President. “Health care providers such as emergency department clinicians, first responders, pharmacists, and others increasingly rely on the experts at poison centers for immediate, evidence-based treatment advice about known or suspected exposures to dangerous substances.”

Poison centers are equipped, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to manage an array of calls, from poison-related information to treatment advice for more serious exposures. “Anyone can experience a poison emergency, however, the public can easily prepare for a these types of emergencies by programming the Poison Help phone number, 1-800-222-1222, into their mobile telephone,” said Kaminski.

Other findings in the report include:

  • The substance classes most frequently involved in human exposures were analgesics (11.3 percent), cosmetics/personal care products (7.7 percent), household cleaning substances (7.7 percent), sedatives/hypnotics/antipsychotics (5.9 percent), and antidepressants (4.4 percent).
  • Unintentional exposures outnumbered intentional exposures in all age groups except in the age category of 13-19 years.
  • Schools were the site of over 27,000 exposures. However, only about 10,000 calls to poison centers were made from schools.

The 32nd annual report issued by the American Association of Poison Control Centers will be published in the December issue of Clinical Toxicology and is available at

AAPCC supports the nation’s 55 poison center members in their efforts to treat and prevent drug, consumer product, animal, environmental and food poisoning. Members staff the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 that provides free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year from toxicology specialists, including nurses, pharmacists, physicians and poison information providers. In addition, AAPCC maintains the only poison information and surveillance database in the United States, providing real-time monitoring of unusual poisoning patterns, chemical exposures and other emerging public health hazards. AAPCC partners with federal agencies such as HRSA, CDC, FDA and EPA, as well as private industry. To learn more, visit, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@AAPCC).

For More Information

  • Edward V. Walrod

    • Associate Manager for Media and Public Relations
    • Email: media at aapcc dot org
    • 703-894-1863

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