Tennessee Poison Center
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3319 West End Avenue Suite 460
Nashville, TN 37203
Organization Details



The Tennessee Poison Center (TPC) is dedicated to the prevention of poisonings in the home, workplace, and environment. The TPC provides clinical advice to the public and healthcare community for the treatment of exposure to drug, chemical, biological, plant 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.


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 2020, the Poison Center provided assistance to 54,293 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 made. All calls are fast, free, 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, 69% of the poison exposure calls received were given first aid treatment recommendations to safely manage the 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.


Poison victims call the 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) estimates to save Tennessee taxpayers $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. 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. The Tennessee Poison Center was certified by the TN Department of Health as the sole provider of poison control service for all 95 counties; 2. The Tennessee Poison Center has reached a major milestone by answering more than 2 million incoming calls to the Poison Help hotline since the center opened in 1988. 3. The Tennessee Poison Center distributed more than 174,500 pieces of poison prevention literature and provided poison prevention education to Tennesseans in all 95 counties through a partnership with the U.T. Extension Educators.


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 54,293 poison emergency calls and made 48,924 follow-up calls to monitor the patient. As calls increase, 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 for salary and fringe benefit expenses 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 accidents, gunshot wounds and drownings. Everyone, from infants to older adults, is at risk for accidental poisoning. Physicians, hospitals, public health departments, first responders and the public depend on Tennessee Poison Center to provide state-of-the-art emergency advice and treatment information 24-hours-a-day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. In FY 2020, the poison specialists at Tennessee Poison Center answered 54,293 calls from residents who needed help in a poison emergency. Our outreach staff and the U.T. Extension Educators presented poison prevention programs to over 7,631 children and adults. All calls to the Poison Help hotline and poison prevention programs are free of charge. Through first aid treatment advice and follow up by telephone, Certified Specialists in Poison Information managed 69% 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. For every $1 spent on a call to a poison center, $14 are saved in preventing health care visits. The Poison Center also is a partner in providing surveillance to prevent biochemical terrorism. 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. Starting March 5,2020, the TPC opened a coronavirus hotline to answer questions from the public regarding COVID 19. This hotline has been very busy, answering up to 300 calls/day from Tennessee residents. 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 community resource that is essential to the health and safety of every Tennessee resident.

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 an increase in demand for service while funding this demand 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 - 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