North Texas Poison Center and National Poison Prevention Week

dfwnewsa | March 23, 2024 | 0 | Dallas News

North Texas Poison Center and National Poison Prevention Week
A young girl opens a kitchen cabinet, which could hold potentially poisonous cleaners. – Photo by Sasha Kim/Pexels

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Poisonings can happen anywhere and to anyone. While the majority of poisonings happen at home, they can also occur in the workplace, schools or other public places and affect young children, teenagers, adults and the elderly.

Poisonings remain the leading cause of injury death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is why the observance of National Poison Prevention Week – from March 17 to March 23 – is so important. The theme for this year is, “When the unexpected happens, Poison Help is here for you 24/7,” according to experts at the North Texas Poison Center  located at Parkland Health.

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“This annual observance focuses attention on poison centers around the country that provide prevention education year-round to help reduce the number of accidents and raises awareness that health professionals are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help with any concerns or questions,” said Lizbeth Petty, MPH, public health educator manager at the NTPC.

Nationally, 55 poison centers provide services to all 50 states. Anyone who needs assistance anywhere in the country can dial the toll-free number 1-800-222-1222 and be connected to one of the centers.

In 2023, NTPC staff responded to 57,697 calls across multiple counties. Of those, 89.8% were single substance exposures, 14.8% were suspected suicides, 10.5% resulted in serious outcomes, 0.07% (39) resulted in death. In addition, 89.8% occurred in a residence, 63.4% were managed on site, and 26.1% cases originated from a health care facility.

Petty said it’s not unusual to hear a lot of misconceptions about the poison center. The number one myth, she said, is that they are staffed by volunteers.

“That is absolutely wrong. The poison center is staff with a team of medical doctors, registered nurses and pharmacists,” she said. “When you call the poison center hotline, you’re speaking with highly trained medical professionals.”

Another myth is that if someone places a call to the center, they could get in trouble with authorities.

“The truth is, the poison center is confidential and must comply with federal privacy laws such as HIPAA,” Petty said, explaining that there are many reasons why someone may have this concern. “Whether it’s an issue of substance abuse or a guardian who is watching little ones, the poison center staff is here to help, not to harm.”

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In addition, she said they often hear from people who think the hotline is only for children.

“Not so,” she added. “People can call us for any age from the very young to the elderly. In fact, nearly 33% of calls to the poison center came from adults over the age of 20.”

She said one of the biggest misconceptions is that individuals can get faster answers through internet searches.

“The average call lasts only four minutes. Even first responders and primary care doctors may call the poison center for an answer,” Petty said. “So go ahead and cut out the middleman.”

Petty reiterated that a poisoning could happen anytime and anywhere.

“It is important to save the center’s number, 1-800-222-1222, to your contacts so you’ll have it at your fingertips when you need it.”

For more information about the North Texas Poison Center, visit www.poisoncontrol.org. To find out about services at Parkland, go to www.parklandhealth.org.

The post North Texas Poison Center and National Poison Prevention Week appeared first on Dallas Examiner.

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