Poison Centers’ Life-Saving Services in Jeopardy Because of Funding Cuts

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American Association of Poison Control Centers Observes 50th Annual National Poison Prevention Week

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Federal, state and local budget cuts are making it difficult for poison centers to continue providing life-saving services.

America’s 57 local poison centers save lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week by providing free, confidential medical advice to people in poison emergencies. However, federal, state and local budget cuts are making it difficult for poison centers to continue providing life-saving services, according to Dr. Rick Dart, president of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

“America’s system of poison centers is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health programs in the nation,” Dart said. “National Poison Prevention Week is a great time to acknowledge the important, life-saving work done every day by the experts at America’s poison centers. Despite the critical services they provide, however, poison centers are in jeopardy after suffering a federal funding cut of 36 percent in 2011 and additional cuts at the state and local levels.”

Since 1962, the third week in March has been designated National Poison Prevention Week and has focused national attention on the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. America’s 57 poison centers are committed to safeguarding the health and well-being of every American through poison prevention and free, confidential, expert medical services.

Poison centers respond to nearly 4 million calls each year – one every eight seconds – saving countless American lives and millions of American taxpayer dollars. Poison centers save lives by providing free and confidential health-care services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year in more than 150 languages. Highly trained, expert health-care professionals at poison centers across the country provide immediate advice to people who call with poisoning emergencies. Poison centers also save money. More than 70 percent of callers are treated at home and don’t have to go to the emergency room – saving an estimated $1 billion in health-care costs each year.

“Our representatives in Washington, D.C., and in state legislatures across the country are in the process of making difficult budget decisions,” Dart said. “As they do so, it’s important they carefully consider the impact of those decisions on the health of the American people. The millions of Americans who rely on poison centers each year illustrate the importance of a system of medical call centers that safeguard the health of our friends, neighbors and family members.”

For more information, the media may contact Loreeta Canton, AAPCC communications manager, at 703.894.1863 or canton(at)aapcc(dot)org or Brett Schuster, communications assistant, at 703.894.1859 or schuster(at)aapcc(dot)org.

The AAPCC supports the nation’s 57 poison centers in their efforts to treat and prevent drug, consumer product, animal, environmental and food poisoning. Members staff the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 that provides free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year from toxicology specialists, including nurses, pharmacists, physicians and poison information providers. In addition, the AAPCC maintains the only poison information and surveillance database in the United States, providing real-time monitoring of unusual poisoning patterns, chemical exposures and other emerging public health hazards. The AAPCC partners with federal agencies such as EPA, HRSA and the CDC, as well as private industry.

To learn more, visit http://www.aapcc.org, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or read our blog at aapcc.wordpress.com.

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