March 18-24 is National Poison Prevention Week. The Regional Poison Control Center at Children’s of Alabama has been a valuable resource to the state since 1958. RPCC serves all ages, offering free and confidential poison information and treatment recommendations to the public and healthcare providers 24 hours a day.
Calls to the RPCC are answered by specially trained poison experts, including nurses, pharmacists and doctors. In 2018, the RPCC answered nearly 44,000 calls resulting in 39,590 exposure and information cases. RPCC specialists made more than 56,000 follow-up calls.
Last year, RPCC specialists monitored 85 percent of poison exposure cases from home on site. At-home monitoring avoids a visit to a hospital, saving $30.6 million in unnecessary emergency department visits.
The top two pediatric exposures in Alabama are household cleaning substances and cosmetics. While the majority of calls to RPCC are related to children, about 34 percent of the calls concern adults. These calls are often related to medication errors — doubling up on doses or mistaking your spouse’s medications for your own.
How can you decrease risk of poison exposures?
• Program our number, 1-800-222-1222, in your cell phone and post it in an easy-to-see location for babysitters or other caregivers in your home.
• Download our free app, Poison Perils, to identify potentially dangerous plants, snakes, insects and common household items.
• When in doubt, check it out. Calls to RPCC are always free and confidential.
Ann Slattery, DrPH, RN, RPh, DABAT
Director, Regional Poison Control Center
Children’s of Alabama