Drug and Poison Information Center

  • Frequently Asked Questions

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    + Is there a charge for calling the Drug and Poison Information Center at Cincinnati Children's?

    No, calling the poison center is a FREE service.

    + Why should I call the poison center?

    • If you have questions about a product or if someone has been exposed to something that may be dangerous, the poison center is here to help.
    • The poison center has access to information on more than 300,000 poisonous substances, and our database is updated every three months.
    • A toxicologist or medical doctor is on call at all times, and consultants in all areas of chemicals, drugs, plants, etc., are available when needed.
    • For poisonings related to animals, a veterinary toxicologist is on call.
    • Limiting the time between an exposure and treatment can often save lives and reduce symptoms.
    • Some exposures do not cause immediate symptoms, but treatment is essential to prevent problems or save lives.

    + Why do they ask so many questions?

    • Poison center staff need to get an accurate history of what happened to the person exposed to a poison or bite.
    • The name and phone number of the person calling and the person exposed are needed so the poison center can call back if disconnected or to check on the situation.
    • Treatment recommendations given by the poison center are determined by the following information:
      • Age
      • Weight
      • Medical history
      • Pre-existing health conditions
      • Past allergies
      • Exact name of product − many products have similar names but different active ingredients
      • Strength of the medication − many medications are available in different strengths
      • Amount of product involved in the exposure
      • Time of exposure
      • Symptoms experienced
      • Hospital the person exposed will go to if needed

    If the person exposed to a poison or bite is referred to the hospital, the poison center will call the hospital and give treatment recommendations.

    + What is done with the information requested?

    • A medical record (chart) is made on all calls.
    • All information obtained is entered into the chart along with treatment recommendations from poison center staff.
    • Additional information is charted as the poison center follows the case until symptoms have resolved.
    • All information is confidential.
    • Patient’s names are given out only in the event of referral to the hospital, and then only to appropriate healthcare personnel.

    + Will the poison center call me back?

    • A return call will be made only if an exposure has occurred, unless otherwise requested.
    • The number of times poison center staff check back with a caller or the person exposed depends on the type of exposure and symptoms experienced.
    • If you are not home when the poison center calls, a message will NOT be left on your answering machine due to federal privacy requirements.
    • It is the intent of the poison center to follow exposures until symptoms have resolved or until the time period for symptoms to occur has lapsed.
    • Often it is important that the parent or relative check on the person exposed during the night to make sure no unexpected symptoms have occurred.

    + Why would the poison center put me on hold?

    • The poison center has several incoming lines and receives calls from all over the state.
    • Sometimes it may be necessary to put a caller on hold to answer another line.
    • Sometimes calls have to be answered in order of severity.
    • The poison center staff make every effort to obtain the necessary information and complete calls as quickly as possible.
    • You can help poison center staff by having as much information as possible about the situation so that we can help you quickly.

    + What if I think my pet has been poisoned?

    • The poison center takes calls about poison exposures in pets.
    • Sometimes the only available option is to seek assistance from your veterinarian.
    • Even if home management is recommended for your pet, referral to a veterinarian is often made for follow-up purposes.