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Wow, I Bet You Hear Lot of Interesting Stuff! What Kind of Calls Do You Get?

Posted: February 9th, 2010 | Tags: , , | No Comments »

I get asked this a lot when people find out I work for the Illinois Poison Center.  There is an intense fascination with the sorts of things that are called into a poison center.  These questions come in conversation, e-mail and the internet.  As an example, our very first Twitter response was “What is the craziest call you have ever gotten?”

The IPC gets 250 to 300 calls a day and it is hard to pick just one “crazy” call.  Behind every story, whether funny, scary, happy or tragic, is a human being.  The variety of human endeavors and activities constantly brings people into contact with potentially harmful substances.  Most of our calls (`80%) come from the general public and the rest from healthcare providers like doctors, nurses and pharmacists.  They range from essentially non-toxic exposures (remember, poisoning is a matter of dose) to fatal poisonings.  Thankfully, over 70% of our calls are in regards to exposures that do not result in any serious harm.

To answer the question “what kind of calls do you get” we would like to share with you “a day in the life of a poison center”.  Tomorrow on Wednesday 2/10, the Illinois Poison Center with hold a rolling blog-a-thon, with hourly posts highlighting the variety of calls we handle at the times we tend to receive them.  For example, between 11 pm and 7 am, most of the calls we receive are from hospitals about drug overdoses.  Between 4 pm and 9 pm, we deal with a lot of pediatric calls from parents and caretakers.  Some of the types of calls that will be highlighted include:

  • Common calls we get regarding children (50% of our calls involve kids 5 years old and under)
    • Analgesics
    • Personal care products
    • Cleaning products
    • Accidental medication or chemical ingestions
    • Common calls we get with adults
      • Wrong medicine
      • Too much medicine
      • Household product stored in the wrong bottle (e.g. pesticide in a Snapple bottle)
      • Hospital calls
        • Drug overdoses
        • Suicide attempts
        • Adverse reaction to drugs
        • Poisonous snake bites
        • Strange, weird and salacious calls
          • For these you will have to read tomorrow’s hourly blog roll!

As you read tomorrow’s blog, some of the calls may seem mundane, others surprising, and some perhaps even a touch too personal.  Regardless of how people come into contact with potentially harmful substances, our staff answers each call with concern, professionalism and respect.

All of these calls are the typical of the types of calls the Illinois Poison Center can get on any given day and many of the listed scenarios we will hear several times a day.  We hope you find the information interesting and educational.

Till tomorrow, Mike


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