New York State Poison Control Network - Annual Report on 2001 Data

Executive Summary

Poison control services have been available in New York State since 1955. At one time, there were more than twenty poison control centers providing services to the residents of New York State, primarily through hospital emergency rooms. In 1986, the Poison Control Network Act established regional poison control centers throughout the State. Eight (8) regional centers were originally designated, formulating the statewide network dedicated to preventing injury and death from poisoning by providing poison emergency assessment and treatment information, public education, and health professional education. In 1990, the number of centers comprising the New York Poison Control Network was reduced to six (6). This was the case during the first six (6) months of 2001.

In mid 2001, the Hudson Valley Regional Poison Center, located at Phelps Memorial Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York, converted to an educational center only. Responsibilities for other than public education services were handled by the Central New York Regional Poison Control Center for all counties originally handled by the Hudson Valley Regional Poison Center, except for Westchester County. The Long Island Regional Poison and Drug Information Center assumed the responsibility for other than public education services in Westchester County.

With this structural modification, the New York State Poison Control Network is now comprised of five (5) regional poison control call centers and one (1) public education center. The Network is dedicated to preventing injury and death from poisoning by providing poison emergency assessment and treatment information, public education, and health professional education. The centers disseminate expert information to the general public as well as to professionals, participate in the collection of uniform data and conduct research to enhance the science of toxicology.

The centers are immediately available, 24 hours per day, seven days per week, to health care professionals, as well as the general public, for the purpose of providing expert telephone consultation for emergency poison exposures and inquiries. The emergency telephone numbers and services are widely publicized in each of the regions. The centers serve as a source of information on life saving antidotes and vaccines, as well as being a primary resource for education and research on poison related issues, servicing health care professionals as well as the general public. The centers provide professional education to medical students, physicians, pharmacists, nurses and other health care professionals. Overall, the Network strives to promote poisoning prevention among the general public through a variety of outreach programs, various education programs and literature distribution designed for specific age groups.

One of the functions of the Poison Control Network is to report information on pesticide poisonings to the New York State Department of Health for the monitoring of acute and chronic effects of pesticide exposure. Since 1999, the centers within the network with constituents in the greater New York metropolitan area have been doing on-going research and review of pesticide information relative to the outbreak of the West Nile Virus.

During 2001, the poison control centers in New York State were supported through reimbursement authorized under the Health Care Reform Act (HCRA) of 2000. In addition, poison center host institutions are provided an add-on to their Medicaid emergency room rate. The current HCRA methodology provides five million dollars annually, which is distributed through the host institutions.

Previous assessments by the Network indicate poison control center services prevent emergency room visits by as much as forty percent (40%) of members of the general public contacting the centers for assistance.

Appendix Two provides graphic reports of the statistical data specific to the telephone services provided by the centers in 2001.

  • The two major categories of telephone calls received are human exposure and information calls.
  • The Network of centers received over 167,000 calls in 2001. Approximately sixty-nine percent (69%) of these calls were related to human poisonings and twenty-eight percent (28%) are requests for information.
  • Forty-six percent (46%) of the information calls in 2001 dealt with questions concerning drug information and identification;
  • Poisoning to children under five years of age constitute forty-three percent (43%) of human exposure calls in 2001;
  • Unintentional poisonings comprise the predominant number of human poisoning exposures;
  • Of the 114,948 human exposure calls received during 2001, less than two percent (2%) resulted in a major effect or death;
  • The vast majority of the human exposure calls (approximately 70% in 2001) are managed on-site without need for additional health care intervention, contributing significantly to the cost savings to the health care system;
  • Three-quarters (3/4) of all human exposure calls were the result of ingestion.

The poison centers within the Network continue to work directly with the State's 911 system by providing training and education to the dispatchers. The poison centers are involved in triaging 911 patients regarding poison exposure. The Network recognizes trends in poisonings as well as seasonal hazards and coordinates services throughout the Network as a statewide service.