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

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

TPC is a comprehensive poison information resource for the public and healthcare professionals. Physicians, hospitals, public health departments, first responders and the public depend on 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 1987, emergency poison exposure calls in Tennessee 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 1987. As other Tennessee 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 Tennessee Poison Center to reflect the statewide coverage. In FY 2019, the Poison Center provided assistance to 52,285 individuals who called the 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 TPC. Fortunately, 66% of the poison exposure calls received were given first aid treatment recommendations to safely manage the emergency at home. This avoids unnecessary emergency room 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, Tennessee residents will call TPC for antidote and decontamination information. In addition to the Poison Help hotline program, Tennessee Poison Center actively conducts community outreach and poison prevention education programs to the public and healthcare professionals. There are no fees charged for either program.

Impact

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. It is estimated that Tennessee Poison Center saved the state of Tennessee more than $18.1 million by preventing unnecessary emergency department fees last year. 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. Tennessee Poison Center was re-certified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers as a nationally recognized center; 2. Tennessee Poison Center was certified by the TN Department of Health as the sole provider of poison control service for all 95 counties; 3. Tennessee Poison Center provided poison prevention education to Tennesseans in all 95 counties through a partnership with the U.T. Extension Educators.

Needs

Poisoning continues to be the leading cause of injury death in Tennessee. 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, TPC answered 52,285 poison emergency calls and made 56,147 follow-up calls to monitor the patient. As calls increase, maintenance of funding is the primary concern. 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 expertise 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 2019, the poison specialists at Tennessee Poison Center answered 52,285 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 13,700 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, 66% of poison exposure calls are managed safely at home. Unnecessary visits to hospital emergency rooms and physicians' offices are avoided and valuable healthcare dollars are saved. For every $1 spent on a call to a poison center, $14 dollars is saved in other medical costs. Also, the Tennessee Poison Center is a partner in the Nation's war on terrorism. Tennessee Poison Center provides public and professional education, information and treatment advice, and 24-hour surveillance for bioterrorism. In January 2004, the Southern Poison Center in Memphis closed due to lack of funding and the Middle Tennessee Poison Center began providing poison control coverage for all Tennesseans. The organization's name changed to "Tennessee Poison Center" to reflect the statewide coverage. Tennessee Poison Center 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. However, as demand for poison control service increases throughout Tennessee, maintenance of funding is crucial to support this vital community service. Tennessee Poison Center is a valuable community resource that is essential to the health and safety of every Tennessee resident.

Board Chair Statement

Tennessee Poison Center has an 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 TPC's mission, goals, programs and development.Promote TPC within their circle of influence. Share their ideas with staff about the growth and improvement of TPC. Assist in special problem solving for TPC. Participate in fundraising efforts, including participation in annual giving and reviewing of grant proposals As the sole provider of poison control service in the state, Tennessee Poison Center is faced with a increase in demand for service while funding this demand remains a challenge. 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