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



The Tennessee Poison Center (TPC) mission is to the prevention of poisonings found at home, school, work, activities, and in the environment. The Poison Center provides clinical advice to the public and healthcare community for the treatment of exposures to drugs, chemicals, biologicals, plants, or envenomations.


The TPC is a FREE multifaceted poison prevention program serving all 6.9 million Tennesseans, in all 95 counties across the state with unduplicated services, as the state's only poison center. The TPC is housed at VUMC, but we must obtain our own revenue to support program expenses.

The TPC provides 3 prevention programs free of charge to Tennessee Residents, first responders, and healthcare facilities:

1) State-of-the-art Poison Help Medical Hotline (1-800-222-1222) for poison emergency and information calls about drugs or toxins. Calls are answered 24/7 by full-time medically trained poison specialists registered nurses, pharmacists, physicians and backed 24/7 by a physician in Medical Toxicology. The TPC provides multilingual poison assessments and will remotely monitor, manage from home or non-healthcare setting, and provide free clinical advice for the treatment of exposures to drugs, chemicals, biologicals, plants, or envenomations found at/in home, school, work, activities, and environment. If a case needs a medical referral, we provide vital treatment advice and follow the case until a poison center is no longer needed. When poison centers are consulted, hospital stays can be reduced by 3-5 days. The essential emergency resources, time. and healthcare dollars we save can now be used toward food, shelter, transportation, clothing, education, and other necessities in the community.

2) Poison prevention education to the public and healthcare professionals with free prevention resources available upon request.

3) Surveillance: We are one of the most important public health surveillance systems against viral, chemical and biological threats. Hotline data is sent to Washington, DC every 8 minutes to detect any unusual activity to keep Greater Nashville and the state we love safe.

Prior to 1988, poison emergency calls in TN were routed to county 911 services or area hospital emergency departments. The staff answering calls did not have the knowledge or training to give clinical 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 the middle, upper east, and southeast Tennessee. In February 2004, the Southern Poison Center in Memphis closed, and MTPC began providing poison control service to the entire state. The name changed to the "Tennessee Poison Center" to reflect the statewide coverage


Poisonings continue to be a leading cause of injury death in Tennessee. Anyone can use the Poison Help hotline, 800.222.1222, for a poison-related emergency or information call about a drug or toxin. An increase in calls may be related to an increase in knowledge and awareness of the expertise and availability of the hotline. The Tennessee Poison Center (TPC) provides vital clinical advice and reduces medical expenses and financial debt by helping avoid unnecessary use of medical facilities and 911 resources. In 2022, the TPC estimated saving Tennessean patients and taxpayers more than $65.7 million dollars.

Our 3 program goals for the year and their accomplishments: 1. Provide access to our free multilingual comprehensive poison prevention program to meet the accessibility and needs of every resident and uphold the highest standard of care in poison control services in the treatment and prevention of poisonings in Tennessee. In accordance with the standards of the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), now known as America's Poison Centers, (APC).

In FY 2022, The TPC answered 51,211 calls, made 41,716 follow-up calls to monitor patients for a total of 92,927 calls. patients needed poison assessment and treatment, we referred 14,513 to a medical facility assisting in further treatment. TPC remotely monitored 32,913 cases and managed 69% of patients from the comfort of their own home or non-healthcare setting. Seventy percent of cases were <=19, 59% were ages <=5, and 30% were ages >=20. Ninety-nine percent utilizing the Poison Help Hotline, suffered no major effect or death. Managing poison exposures at home has a huge financial savings impact, but we define our success by the healthcare costs we avert Tennessean patients and taxpayers. We saved TN an estimated $70.3 Million dollars, a 232% increase from 2021, by preventing unnecessary medical expenses for the underinsured with uncompensated care. Our 2022 Annual Call Survey found that 96% of our callers stated they would go to a medical facility or call 911 if the TPC did not exist, whereas in FY21 71% would have and 77% of our callers had Medicare, Medicaid, TennCare or no insurance, whereas FY21 44% were underinsured. Hotline calls are answered 24/7 by full-time poison specialists-registered nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and are backed 24/7 by a medical toxicologist.

2. We continued growing our knowledge of poisons and prevention techniques to evolve our services with continued education and collaboration with other poison centers, injury prevention programs, anti-drug coalitions, community programs, and partner agencies. Annually we create new prevention programs and work with University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Educators to identify populations we could better serve together in our outreach efforts. The beauty of our partnership with UT Extension is our ability to work together to implement researched-based information and evidence-based public health programs to residents throughout the state of Tennessee, with an office in all 95 counties. One of the greatest strengths is their capacity to help us reach and create awareness among large audiences about the Tennessee Poison Center hotline and services. They work with farmers, families, youth, and communities to help improve people's lives by addressing problems and issues at the local level. This has allowed our prevention education to flourish across the state. In 2022, the TPC distributed 144,963 requested prevention resources by residents, first responders, and healthcare facilities and provided poison prevention education to over 1,404 TN residents and healthcare professionals in all 95 counties. In FY21, UTEE provided community-based education to 10,368 TN residents despite the significant impact on outreach efforts due to the pandemic.

3. 24/7 statewide bioterrorism surveillance. In June 2022, the THD and TPC, closed the Covid-19 line answering 83,000+ calls since March 2020


The Tennessee Poison Center (TPC) is the only organization that can provide immediate poison assessments and vital clinical advice for the treatment of exposures to drugs, chemicals, biologicals, plants, or envenomations found at home, school, work, activities, and in the environment. Last fiscal year, the TPC answered 51,211 poison emergency calls and made 41,716 follow-up calls to monitor patients for a total of 92,927 calls managed by TPC SPIs, Specialists in Poison Information. While all calls to the hotline are free, it costs about $46 per call for a poison center to provide the medical expertise and service.

As poisonings continue to be a leading cause of injury death according to the CDC, as a non-profit maintenance of funding is the primary concern to keep TN safe. The TPC is required by America's Poison Centers to hire additional SPIs as calls increase. Therefore, funding to support salary and fringe benefits is crucial to the stability of the poison center to staff fully medically trained Poison Specialists (registered nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and toxicologists). Another need is to increase awareness of the poison center's toll-free medical hotline, the expertise of specialists, and provide free multilingual poison prevention education and resources statewide.

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 any time 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 2022, the poison specialists at TPC answered 51,211 incoming calls from residents who needed help in a poison emergency or called for poison prevention information. Program Education and outreach by the TPC and the U.T. Extension Educators provided public and professional poison prevention education to over 11,772 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 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. 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. The line closed in June 2022, the TPC answered more than 83,000 calls since the line opened in March 2020. This hotline was 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 public health information in times of crisis to the public and healthcare community as one of the most important rapid response teams in the state, certified in AHLS. 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 health and safety of every Tennessee resident and healthcare professional.

Board Chair Statement

The Tennessee Poison Center has a 9-member Community Board that acts as an advisory board rather than a governing board. The board members are community volunteers interested in healthcare issues; we welcome anyone interested in joining to contact us. Our 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: Health Care  - Emergency Medical Services & Transport 
Tertiary Category: Public Safety, Disaster Preparedness and Relief  - Disaster Preparedness and Relief Service 

Areas Served

Tennessee Poison Center is the state's only poison control center serving all 6.9 million Tennesseans statewide in all 95 counties.

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