Aug 17, 2016: What do Medical Interns need to know about the Poison Center?

Welcome to all the new Interns, who are no longer as new as they were last month.

Each July, there are questions about the difference between the Toxicology Consult Service and the Poison Center. 

The Poison Center hotline is a program based at Vanderbilt (second floor Oxford House).  It is a state-wide service staffed by nurses, Pharm Ds, and physicians who have spent at least one year specializing in poison management and have passed a national certification exam as Specialists in Poison Information.   They can offer clinical advice and walk you through any exposure, be it drugs, bites, environmental exposures, workplace exposures, or eye drops.  They can discuss the expected course of an overdose in a patient who has ingested a single drug or multiple drugs.  The data they collect is sent every 15 minutes to Washington, DC and is part of the US syndromic surveillance for biochemical terrorism.   The toll-free number is 1-800-222-1222.

When you page the toxicology service at Vanderbilt, you will contact the toxicologist-on-call (me)!  You can request a consult or ask specific questions about a specific patient.  But if you have general questions (like whether to use antibiotics following snakebite, the half-life of a drug, a pill identification), the Specialist in Poison Information is readily available to help you at 1-800-222-1222.

The Question of the Week can be found in the healthcare professionals section on our webpage.  They have been archived for a number of years.  They frequently answer questions that have been sent to us by treating physicians.  If you have a question you would like to have addressed, feel free to send it to me.


This question prepared by:  Donna Seger, MD  Medical Toxicologist


I am interested in any questions you would like answered in the Question of the Week.  Please email me with any suggestion at


Donna Seger, MD

Medical Director

Tennessee Poison Center

Poison Help Hotline: 1-800-222-1222