WASHINGTON, DC —Bipartisan legislation to continue the federal government’s vital support for the nation’s poison control network sponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) and U.S. Representatives Lee Terry (R-NE) and Eliot Engel (D-NY), passed the House of Representatives last week and passed the Senate last night. Specifically, the bill reauthorizes the poison control center national toll-free number, national media campaign, and state grant program. The bill now heads to the President’s desk for signature.
The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that in any given year there will be between 3-5 million poison exposures. Half 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 injury death in the United States and accounts for 260,000 hospitalizations each year. 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 an essential program impacting thousands of lives every year through prevention and treatment efforts at centers across the country,” said Senator Burr. “I am pleased that Congress has passed this important bipartisan legislation to give American families the peace of mind to know that help will continue to be there when they need it most.”
“This legislation helps eliminate costly and unnecessary emergency room visits each year,” said Representative Terry. “The professionals who answer the calls at these centers provide expert advice and peace of mind to nearly three million families each year at the moment a loved one ingests a potentially poisonous substance.”
“Poison centers are a life-saving service for Americans,” said Representative Engel. “They offer free medical advice around the clock and are a primary source for poisoning information that can provide reassurances to anxious parents and reduce costly emergency department visits. We owe it to our citizens to continue to make these centers accessible to all Americans.”
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 56 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.