March 6, 2007
Contact: Kaylyn Kendall Dines
Phone: (973) 972-3000
Research Indicates Calling the Poison Control Center
May Reduce Hospital Stays
- National Poison Prevention Week will be observed from March 18 to March 24 -
NEWARK — Outcomes of a study that was conducted by a toxicologist at the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System indicate there may be a link between consulting the Poison Control Center during poison-related emergencies and shorter lengths of hospitalization. The study, which was published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, indicates that assistance from the Poison Control Center may also result in decreased medical costs.
This study examined whether there was a correlation between patients whose physicians received assistance from the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, also known as the Poison Control Center, and those who did not receive a consultation. When the Poison Control Center was involved in patient management, the average hospital stay was two days compared with five days for patients who were admitted without consulting the poison center.
“Our findings suggest that guidance from trained toxicologists can help decrease, and sometimes eliminate, hospital stays associated with poisonings,” said Dr. Steven M. Marcus, executive director of NJPIES which is located on the Newark campus of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Researchers say the study also generated a hypothesis about the potential cost savings. According to statistics from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, in 2002 the average daily charge for a patient who was hospitalized for a poisoning was $6,000.
In 2002, the study year, there were 32,245 hospitalizations related to poisonings in New Jersey compared with 52,498 poison-exposure calls that were answered by physicians, nurses, pharmacists and researchers at the Poison Control Center, said Dr. Marcus who is also a professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health and an associate professor of pediatrics at the UMDN-New Jersey Medical School.
Cases that were reported to New Jersey’s poison center in 2002 were matched with the hospital admissions billing system as reported to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.
“During a poison emergency, every second counts,” said Dr. Marcus, one of the authors of the Jan. 31 study. “When in doubt do not hesitate, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. By calling this number anywhere in the country, you will be connected to the appropriate regional poison center where trained health professionals with up-to-date toxicological information will help guide and streamline your care.”
Since it was established in the 1950s, Poison Control Centers have provided information to health professionals and the lay public about responses to poison exposures. In 1983, the poison centers in New Jersey were merged into a statewide system. Statistics compiled in 2004 by the American Association of Poison Control Centers indicate that Poison Control Centers nationwide responded to 546,228 calls regarding poisonings managed in health care facilities, almost 84 percent of the calls were from acute care hospitals.
“The Impact of a Poison Control Center on the Length of Hospital Stay for Patients with Poisoning” was written by Dr. Zdravko P. Vassilev and Dr. Marcus. The New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, also called the Poison Control Center, can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week toll-free at 1-800-222-1222. The website for the Poison Control Center, which is located on UMDNJ’s Newark campus, is http://www.njpies.org/.
UMDNJ is the nation ’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.