Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) and U.S. Representatives Lee Terry (R-NE) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced bi-partisan legislation in the Senate and House that will continue the federal government's vital support for the nation's poison control centers. Specifically, the bill reauthorizes the poison center national toll-free number, national media campaign, and state grant program.
The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that in any given year there will be between 3-5 million poison exposures. Sixty percent of these exposures will involve children under the age of 6 who are exposed to toxins in their home. Poisoning is the second most common form of unintentional death in the United States and accounts for 285,000 hospitalizations. According to a report from the Institute of Medicine, every dollar spent on poison control center services saves $7 in medical spending.
"The Poison Control network is literally a lifeline for millions of Americans," Senator Murray said. "This bill means that parents around the country can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that help is always available."
"The Poison Control network is a vital program that impacts thousands of lives every year through prevention and treatment efforts at centers around the country," said Senator Burr. "This bill gives American families the peace of mind to know that help will continue to be there when they need it the most."
"Poison control centers provide free, critical life-saving support at the moment the unthinkable happens," said Rep. Terry. "I'm pleased to join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort to get this common-sense and must pass legislation signed into law."
"Poison centers are a life-saving service for Americans," said Representative Engel. "They offer free medical advice around the clock. They are a primary source for poisoning information that saves lives and reduces costly emergency department visits. They also offer reassurance and relief when they can tell parents, for example, that glow sticks used by children, or other toys, are not harmful. We owe it to our citizens to continue this service."
The poison center national toll-free number, national media campaign, and state grant program that will be reauthorized in this bill provide the federal assistance for the nation's network of poison control centers to support poison prevention. There are currently 61 poison control centers (PCCs) nationwide. Each PCC is a medical support facility staffed by toxicologists, nurses, and other professionals operating 24 hours a day seven days a week to provide a free, but critical medical service.
The toll-free nationwide poison-control hotline number is 1-800-222-1222.