An Introduction to the Illinois Poison Center Blog:
Welcome to the first post of the Illinois Poison Center blog site! I must be honest, in medical school I never thought I would be writing an internet blog, probably because Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet and blogs did not exist. A lot has changed in the past 20 plus years. With the tremendous growth in the internet and social media, the ability to communicate in the blogosphere has taken off with mommy blogs, daddy blogs, political blogs, community blogs, health-related blogs and others. There are those who may ask “Does the world really need another blog, especially a poison center blog?” I would have to answer with an unequivocal “yes”.
The Illinois Poison Center provides a variety of services and programs that encompass health care, public health education and research. Through this blog, we will generate a dialogue, a conversation, with everyone interested in decreasing the harm of poisoning in their family, community or in the patients they treat.
We will have stories, articles, news you can use, interesting poisoning cases, and information and education on how to make your home and community safer.
Important general factoids on poisoning and poison centers:
- Poisoning surpassed firearms in 2005 to become the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in the US behind motor vehicle accidents
- Nationally, over 4 million calls are received by poison centers for information and treatment advice on potentially harmful substances
What is the Illinois Poison Center and what does it do?
The Illinois Poison Center (IPC) is a non-profit health service serving all of Illinois. It provides comprehensive and trusted information and treatment advice on potentially harmful substances via its free, confidential 24-hour hotline staffed by medical experts including doctors, nurses and pharmacists.
- The IPC answers ~100,000 calls per year
- About 18,000 calls come directly from healthcare providers seeking a telemedicine consultation on how to treat a potentially poisoned patient in their care, the vast majority from ER and ICU physicians and nurses
However, we are much more than an emergency medical hotline. We serve as the state’s leading resource of advance toxicology training for healthcare professionals. Working closely with colleges and universities in Illinois, we educate nursing, pharmacy and medical students to further the knowledge of toxicology. The IPC has an extensive public education program and engages volunteers within Illinois communities statewide to help provide the general public with poison prevention education on potentially harmful substances.
How does the Illinois Poison Center educate health care professionals in training?
We provide advanced toxicology and poison prevention education to healthcare students and professionals through a variety of ways.
- Through our partnership with the Toxikon Consortium which includes medical toxicology specialists at UIC and Stroger Hospital, we assist in the training of over 80 emergency medicine residents and fellows every year
- The IPC serves as an experiential rotation site for multiple medical schools in the Chicago metropolitan area
- We currently offer rotations and didactic lectures to 4 pharmacy schools (UIC, Midwestern, Southern Illinois University, Chicago State University)
- The IPC has partnerships with several nursing schools to educate their students on how to teach poison prevention through our online poison prevention education program.
How does the Illinois Poison Center deliver poison prevention education to communities?
We provided outreach education in communities throughout the state with unique partnerships with:
- Community organizations
- Individual educators
Many of the individual educators use IPC curriculum and materials as part of their own health-related and safety mission in their own jobs such as school nurses, doctor’s offices, head start and other preschool. With our partnerships and several hundred active volunteers, the IPC sponsors over 2500 events, reaching 300,000 people annually.
We are very excited to start our journey through the blogosphere. As you take the trip with us, please post and ask questions about poisons and other potentially harmful substances and we will do our best to answer them. Through the medium of online communication, with stories, news you can use, and other articles, together we will make our homes and communities safer places for our children and families.
Michael Wahl MD
Illinois Poison Center