Frequently Asked Questions

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  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.