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In an Emergency

1. Call the Poison Center Helpline (1-800-222-1222) if you or another person have been exposed to something that might cause an unwanted and/or unexpected reaction.


2. Remain calm - the majority of poison emergencies can be resolved quickly; over the phone


3. Call 9-1-1 if the person is unconscious or has difficulty breathing.




Fact Sheet

Jan 17, 2018
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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 helpline, 1-800-222-1222. The helpline is staffed by specially trained medical experts, including physicians, nurses and pharmacists.


In 2016, the IPC managed 78,704 cases from across Illinois. Of those calls, a majority (73,050) were for advice on treating someone exposed to a potentially harmful substance.  The additional 5,654 calls were for poison information. Approximately 44 percent of the poison exposure calls handled by the IPC last year involved children ages 5 and younger (31,810 pediatric exposures).  Nearly 78,000 total follow-up calls we made to the public and health care facilities. The IPC also provided clinical toxicology information via it’s website “My Child Ate…”  resource center (42 separate substance pages); 284,988 total page views (16,076 page views from Illinois).


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 23,947 poisoning cases in 2016 alone. Cases originating from acute care hospitals have increased over 50 percent in the past decade. Illinois healthcare professionals in Emergency Departments consult the IPC at a rate of 40% higher than the national average.  


By providing treatment advice over the phone, the IPC experts managed 90 percent of the poison exposure calls from the public at the site of exposure eliminating the need for a referral to a health care facility.  IPC staff prevented an estimated 30,000 ER visits in 2016.  


The top 3 substances involved in exposures reported to the IPC are analgesics, sedative hypnotic/antipsychotic drugs, and cleaning substances (closely followed by cosmetics/personal care products).  In 2016, the top 15 substances involved in exposures were:

  1. Analgesics: 11,427
  2. Sedative Hypnotics/antipsychotics: 7,406
  3. Cleaning substances: 5,735
  4. Cosmetics/Personal care products: 5,713
  5. Antidepressants: 4,897
  6. Antihistamines: 3,959
  7. Alcohols: 3,947
  8. Cardiovascular drugs: 3,530
  9. Foreign bodies/toys: 2,810
  10. Topical preparations: 2,430
  11. Pesticides: 2,385
  12. Stimulants and street drugs: 2,414
  13. Vitamins: 2,245
  14. Anticonvulsants: 2,183
  15. Hormones and hormone antagonists: 2,037


Economic Impact


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. The IPC saves the people of Illinois $60 million annually by preventing unnecessary utilization of healthcare resources.


  • Research shows that if a poison center is not available, 70 percent of people will use other local emergency services, overburdening hospital emergency departments and creating unnecessary medical costs.
  • Multiple studies have found that consulting poison center experts shortens the average length of stay for poisoned patients admitted to the hospital by one to three days.


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.


A free online Poison Prevention Education Course and Resource Center (PPERC) enables the public and healthcare providers to learn about poison prevention and provides educational materials that can be shared with their community.


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 7 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. More than 200 pharmacy students, pharmacy residents, medical students, emergency medicine residents, and emergency medicine pediatric fellows received specialized toxicology training in 2016.



General Information



The Illinois Poison Center is the nation’s oldest and one of the largest poison centers in the U.S.


In 1953, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center founded, funded and operated the first poison control center in the United States. In 2016, the Illinois Poison Center became a service of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association.


Click here for a list of IPC staff.


Medical backup for the IPC is provided by the Toxikon Consortium, a collaboration of all the toxicology resources between Cook County (Stroger) Hospital, The University of Illinois Hospital and Medical Center of Chicago, and the Illinois Poison Center.  Toxikon faculty include 12 board certified medical toxicologists and 4 board certified pharmacist toxicologists


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For questions and/or comments (non-emergency), contact us: or 312.906.6136

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Phone: 312-906-6136 TDD: 312-906-6185 Fax: 312-627-8006