American Association of Poison Control Centers Celebrates National Public Health Week
April 5, 2016 | Download PDF
ALEXANDRIA, VA – During the week of April 4, 2016, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) will celebrate National Public Health Week by raising awareness of the availability and invaluable contributions of the nation’s poison control centers to poisoning prevention and treatment, a critical public health concern in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), poisoning, specifically drug poisoning, is the leading cause of injury death in the United States. More people die of poisoning every year than either gun or motor vehicle-related injuries. Thus, the U.S. government recognizes poisoning prevention as an effort critical to the nation’s health, designating the third week of March each year as National Poison Prevention Week, and including poisoning prevention as an explicit Healthy People 2020 objective.
America’s 55 poison centers provide emergency and information services to the public, first responders, and health care providers like pediatricians and emergency department physicians 24 hours a day, year-round. Serving the entire U.S. population in all 50 states and U.S. territories, poison centers save lives and protect the health of Americans through direct medical services and poisoning prevention education, at no cost to Americans. In addition, AAPCC houses real-time national and regional poisoning surveillance capabilities through the AAPCC’s National Poison Data System (NPDS).
In light of the nation’s ongoing opioid overdose epidemic, the lead-laden water crisis in Michigan, and various recent food poisoning outbreaks, the accessibility of the real-world toxicology expertise housed by America’s poison control centers is as relevant to public health now as it was 30 years ago, when poison centers came into existence primarily to address unintentional pediatric poisonings. “In 2014, America’s poison control centers managed 2.9 million calls, about 2.2 million of which were about people of all ages and in all settings coming into contact with dangerous or potentially dangerous substances,” said Jay L. Schauben, PharmD, DABAT, FAACT, Director of the Florida/USVI Poison Information Center in Jacksonville, and current AAPCC President. “In addition, about twenty percent of our calls in 2014 came from healthcare practitioners who needed advice diagnosing and managing poisoned patients.”
The U.S. poison control center system is also remarkably cost-effective. In 2014, approximately 68 percent of human exposures reported to poison centers were treated at the exposure site, saving millions of dollars in unnecessary hospital visits. “Poison centers save Americans more than $1.8 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity, said Stephen T. Kaminski, JD, AAPCC CEO and Executive Director. “The U.S. poison control system is truly one of the best public health bargains around. People are often astonished to learn that it takes just $0.43 a year per U.S. resident to fund the nation’s entire poison control system. If you only do one thing in observance of National Public Health Week, save the Poison Help number, 1 (800) 222-1222, as a contact in your phone. You never know when you or someone you care about might need this critical public health resource.”
For more information, the media may contact Angela Gonzales, AAPCC Associate Manager, Communications and Outreach, at 703-894-1865 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. Be prepared for a poisoning emergency and program the Poison Help phone number into your mobile telephone today – 1 (800) 222-1222.