Tennessee Poison Center
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615-936-0760
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3319 West End Avenue Suite 460
Nashville, TN 37203
Organization Details

Statements

Mission

The Tennessee Poison Center (TPC) is dedicated to the prevention of poisonings in the home, the workplace, and the environment. The TPC provides clinical advice to the public and healthcare community for the treatment of exposure to drugs, chemicals, biologicals, plants, or envenomation. The TPC's goals are to prevent poisonings, minimize poisoning complications, and reduce the number of poison-related deaths through telephone hotline intervention, public education, professional education, and clinical research.

Background

The TPC is a comprehensive poison information resource for the public and healthcare professionals. Physicians, hospitals, health departments, first responders, and the public depend on the TPC to provide state-of-the-art emergency advice and treatment information 24-hours-a-day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Prior to 1988, emergency poison exposure calls in TN were routed to county 911 services or area hospital emergency departments. The staff that answered these calls had neither the knowledge nor training to give clinical advice or treatment recommendations. Vanderbilt University Medical Center established the Middle Tennessee Poison Center (MTPC) in 1988. As other TN poison centers closed, MTPC expanded its service area to 56 counties in middle, upper east and southeast Tennessee. In February 2004, the Southern Poison Center in Memphis closed, and MTPC began providing poison control coverage for all Tennesseans. The name changed to the "Tennessee Poison Center" to reflect the statewide coverage. In FY 2021, the Poison Center provided assistance to 52,040 individuals who called the toll-free Poison Help telephone hotline, 1-800-222-1222, requesting either emergency first aid treatment advice for a possible poison exposure or information regarding a poison. That number does not reflect follow-up calls. All calls are toll- free, fast and confidential. The medical professionals answering the calls are pharmacists, registered nurses or physicians with specialty training and certification in managing poison exposures. These professionals are employees of the TPC. Fortunately, 68% of the poison exposure calls received were given first aid treatment recommendations to safely manage their poison emergency at home. This avoids unnecessary emergency department or physician office visits and saves health care dollars. For those individuals who need further medical care, the poison specialist refers the patient to an area hospital and assists the hospital staff with the patient's treatment. Not only does the Poison Center assist in daily poison emergencies, it also is a vital part of our State's disaster plan. In the event of a chemical or biological threat, TN residents will call the TPC for antidote and decontamination information. In addition to the Poison Help hotline program, the TPC actively conducts community outreach and poison prevention education programs to the public and healthcare professionals statewide. There are no fees charged for either program.

Impact

Poison victims call the toll-free Poison Help medical telephone hotline in a poison emergency resulting in: A decrease in their level of immediate crisis, an increase in their knowledge of treatment by utilizing first aid recommendations, and possible savings of health care dollars by calling the Poison Help hotline rather than visiting a hospital or physician's office. The Tennessee Poison Center (TPC) estimated to save Tennessee taxpayers more than $28.6 million in 2020 by preventing unnecessary emergency department visits for the underinsured. Three most significant goals for the current year: 1. Provide poison control coverage for all Tennesseans according to the standards of the American Association of Poison Control Centers. 2. Provide bioterrorism surveillance for all 95 counties. 3. Continue to collaborate with the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Educators to provide poison prevention education to residents in all 95 Tennessee counties. Three most significant accomplishments of the past year: 1. In FY 2021, the TPC managed 68% of callers poison emergency at home under the monitoring of a poison specialist. Managing poison exposures at home prevents unnecessary emergency department visits, ultimately saving families valuable healthcare dollars. In fact, in 2020, the TPC estimated to save the taxpayers of TN more than $28.6 million by preventing unnecessary emergency department visits for the underinsured. Hotline calls are answered 24/7 by poison specialists who are registered nurses, pharmacists, and physicians with extensive poison management experience. 2. In FY 2021, the TPC distributed more than 71,471 pieces of poison prevention literature and provided poison prevention education to over 4,260 TN residents and healthcare professionals in all 95 counties. Also, our partnership continues with the U.T Extension Educators (UTEE), and they provide outcomes to the TPC annually. In 2020, the UTEE provided community-based poison prevention education and resources to 200 TN residents statewide. Despite the significant impact on program and outreach efforts due to COVID-19, the TPC and UTEE continue to think of innovative ways and opportunities to educate the community and healthcare professionals statewide. 3. On March 5, in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Health, the TPC opened the Tennessee Coronavirus Public Information Line within one day of the Department of Health requesting us to open the line. As of May 28, 2021, the TPC managed more than 75,000 calls. This hotline is operated and staffed independently from the Poison Help hotline.

Needs

From the latest data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, poisoning continues to be the leading cause of injury death in Tennessee. The Tennessee Poison Center (TPC) is the only organization that can provide immediate medical treatment advice in the event of any type of poisoning. Last fiscal year, the TPC answered 52,040 poison emergency calls and made 47,103 follow-up calls to monitor the patient for a total of 99,143 calls managed by the poison specialists. As poisonings continue to be the leading cause of injury death, maintenance of funding is the primary concern. The TPC is required by the American Association of Poison Control Centers to add staff if call volume increases to a certain level. Therefore, funding to support salary and fringe benefits is crucial to the stability of the poison center. Another need is to increase awareness of the poison center's toll-free hotline, the expertise of specialists, and provide poison prevention education to non-English speaking residents.

CEO Statement

Poisoning continues to be the leading cause of injury death for Tennessee residents, surpassing motor vehicle crashes. Accidental poisoning can happen to anyone, at anytime from the youngest child to the oldest adult. Physicians, hospitals, public health departments, first responders and the public depend on the TPC to provide state-of-the-art emergency advice and treatment information24/7/365. In FY 2021, the poison specialists at TPC answered 52,040 incoming calls from residents who needed help in a poison emergency or called for poison prevention information. Our outreach staff and the U.T. Extension Educators provide poison prevention education to over 4,460 children and adults statewide. All calls to the Poison Help hotline are toll-free and poison prevention programs are provided free of charge. Through first aid treatment advice and follow up by telephone, Certified Specialists in Poison Information managed 68% of callers with poison exposures safely at home. Unnecessary visits to the hospital emergency departments and physicians' offices are avoided, and valuable healthcare dollars are saved. Funds saved can then be used for food, shelter, transportation, and other essential needs. The Poison Center also is a partner in providing surveillance to prevent biochemical terrorism. In fact, on March 5, in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Health, the TPC opened the Tennessee Coronavirus Public Information Line within one day of the Department of Health requesting us to open the line. As of May 28, 2021, the TPC managed more than 75,000 calls. This hotline is operated and staffed independently from the Poison Help hotline. The TPC provides public and professional education, information, and treatment advice, and 24-hour surveillance for bioterrorism. The TPC also partners with the Department of Health to provide information to the public in times of pandemics. The TPC depends on financial support from a variety of sources such as federal HRSA grants, institutional funding, state contributions, and community donations in order to provide statewide poison control service. As demand for poison control service continues, maintenance of funding is crucial to support this vital community service. The TPC is a valuable and cost-saving resource essential to the healthy and safety of every Tennessee residents and healthcare professional.

Board Chair Statement

The Tennessee Poison Center has a 10-member Community Board that acts as an advisory board rather than a governing board. The board members are community volunteers interested in healthcare issues. The Community Board members are asked to do the following: Keep informed about the TPC's mission, goals, programs, and development; promote the TPC within their circle of influence; share their ideas with staff about the growth and improvement of the TPC; assist in special problem solving for the TPC, and participate in fundraising efforts, including participation in annual giving and assist in discussing funding opportunities that benefit the TPC. As the sole provider of poison control service in the state, the Tennessee Poison Center is faced with the demand for service while funding the operation 24/7/365 remains a challenge. The TPC continues to research funding opportunities in the public and private sectors and is dedicated to being a financially stable poison control center.


Service Categories

Primary Category: Mental Health & Crisis Intervention  - Hot Lines & Crisis Intervention 
Secondary Category: Public Safety, Disaster Preparedness and Relief  - Disaster Preparedness and Relief Service 
Tertiary Category: Public Safety, Disaster Preparedness and Relief  -  

Areas Served

Tennessee Poison Center serves all 95 counties. It is the only poison control center in Tennessee.

TN
TN - Bedford
TN - Cannon
TN - Cheatham
TN - Clay
TN - Coffee
TN - Cumberland
TN - Davidson
TN - DeKalb
TN - Dickson
TN - Fentress
TN - Franklin
TN - Giles
TN - Hickman
TN - Houston
TN - Humphreys
TN - Jackson
TN - Lawrence
TN - Lewis
TN - Lincoln
TN - Macon
TN - Marshall
TN - Maury
TN - Montgomery
TN - Moore
TN - Overton
TN - Perry
TN - Pickett
TN - Putnam
TN - Robertson
TN - Rutherford
TN - Smith
TN - Stewart
TN - Sumner
TN - Trousdale
TN - Van Buren
TN - Warren
TN - Wayne
TN - White
TN - Williamson
TN - Wilson