The Illinois Poison Center is a non-profit health service that provides the people of Illinois with comprehensive and trusted information and treatment advice on potentially harmful substances via a free, confidential 24-hour hotline, 1-800-222-1222. The hotline is staffed by specially trained medical experts, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.
In 2012, the IPC handled 81,803 total calls. Of those, 73,998 calls were for advice on treating someone exposed to a potentially harmful substance; 7,805 calls were for poison information. Approximately 47.8 percent of the poison exposure calls handled by the IPC last year involved children ages 5 and under.
Medical professionals throughout Illinois turn to the IPC for specialized consultation services in the management of poisoned patients. In fact, healthcare professionals called the IPC on 21,676 poisoning cases in 2012 alone. Calls from healthcare professionals have increased over 50% in the past decade.
IPC experts managed 90 percent of the poison exposure calls from the general public at the site of exposure without a referral to a health care facility by providing treatment advice over the phone.
The IPC saves lives and improves patient care by working with hospitals in Illinois to provide expert medical recommendations to healthcare providers treating patients exposed to potentially harmful substances. In addition the IPC saves the people of Illinois $50 million annually, preventing unnecessary 911 calls and visits to a doctor or hospital and decreasing length of hospital stay for poisoned patients admitted to the hospital by an average of 1 day.
32.6 percent of human exposures calls managed by the Illinois Poison Center involve potentially harmful substances such as analgesics (pain medicines), Sedative hypnotic and antidepressant medicines, and and cosmetics/personal care products – making these items among the most common sources of poisoning exposures. The remaining 67.4 percent of human exposures are a combination of other potentially poisonous substances, such as cleaning substances, other prescription and over-the-counter medications, chemicals, etc.
Education and Outreach Efforts
The IPC serves one of the largest populations of all poison centers in the nation covering all 102 counties in Illinois with a total estimated population of nearly 12.9 million.
An online poison prevention education training course and resource center enables the public and healthcare providers to learn about poison prevention, and use the information to educate others in their community. The free Web-based course provides training on poison prevention education and the resource center allows registered poison prevention educators to download and/or order free educational materials.
In 2001 the IPC launched its innovative satellite education network, the program allows the IPC to partner with hospitals throughout the state to provide poison prevention and education. Currently, the program includes 10 volunteer satellite education centers.
The IPC is a partner with the Toxikon Consortium, one of the largest and most successful professional toxicology training programs in the nation. Approximately 160 pharmacy students, medical students, emergency medicine residents, and emergency medicine pediatric fellows received specialized toxicology training in 2012.
The Illinois Poison Center is the nation’s oldest poison center.
In 1953, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center founded, funded and operated the first poison control center in the United States. In 1997, the Illinois Poison Center relocated to the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, where it is currently housed.
The IPC is a non-profit organization, supported by public and private grants and gifts and individual contributions.
The IPC call center staff receives on-site supervision, education, and ongoing training from the IPC medical directors and Toxikon faculty who are board certified, practicing emergency medicine physicians, and medical toxicologists.
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