Your emergency department patient ingested an unknown amount of an unidentified over-the-counter analgesic. Your toddler took a bite out of your deodorant stick. You accidentally took your mother’s heart medication instead of your allergy medicine. Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! Oops, wrong blog. Let’s try that again. Who you gonna call? The Illinois Poison Center (free, confidential, 24/7/365 helpline service): 1-800-222-1222!
Our highly trained staff field calls just like these 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All of these healthcare professionals (physicians, pharmacists, nurses), have specialized training in toxicology so they are ready to offer the respect, concern and experience Illinoisans need, whether they’ve come into contact with potentially harmful substances or just want to know more about health and safety.
In honor of National Poison Prevention Week, take a peek into our staff’s daily lives with hour-by-hour summaries of actual calls made to the IPC. Although these calls are from 2015, they continue to represent the range of issues we encounter on a typical day and the concerns of the nearly 80,000 people who call the IPC for help every year:
…And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. For every one of those calls, an IPC specialist takes the time to learn the full history behind each exposure, thoroughly research the situation, collaborate with other specialists if necessary, give the caller a full explanation of any potential effects, and recommend interventions for the best possible outcome. A single call can last 15 minutes or more, especially for more complex cases.
This hard work pays off for everyone, from healthcare professionals and patients, to families and taxpayers. Over 90 percent of the cases referred to the IPC are managed over the phone, saving taxpayers $60 million annually by cutting down on unnecessary emergency department visits, ambulance rides and the number of days patients stay in the hospital if admitted.
Has a day in our world inspired you to find out more about poison prevention? There’s no better time than National Poison Prevention Week to take our complimentary, online Poison Prevention Education Course. Free continuing education credit (CEC) as well as a variety of education/promo materials available to you throughout the year (safety packets, posters, stickers, magnets, presentation materials, etc.). Get started today to learn about the vast number of topics handled by the nation’s poison centers, how to respond to an exposure to a potentially harmful substance in your home/work/play/education environments and how to become an educational resource for your community. Click here for free resources: activity sheets, videos, posters, Complimentary Safety Packet (sticker, magnet, first aid recommendations) and more.