Aug 6, 2018: What do you need to know about the Tennessee Poison Center (TPC) in 2018?

The TPC consists of a 24/7 hotline phone service, and an outreach / education service. 

The hotline service is staffed by Certified Specialists in Poison Information.  Nurses, PharmDs, or physicians may take the qualifying exam after approximately one year of training in a Poison Center. They must recertify every 7 years.  These are highly trained health care professionals that provide management and treatment advice to home callers (70% of our calls) and health care providers (30% of calls) primarily from the EDs or ICUs in TN.  The Managing Director is Nena Bowman, Pharm D, DABAT.  Our poison center is accredited by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) and is designated by the Tennessee Department of Health as the state’s only poison control center.  That means there must be a medical/clinical toxicologist available for back-up calls 24 hours/day. 

TPC serves all 95 counties in Tennessee and last year received 51,617 calls.  Every $1 spent on poison centers saves $13 in unnecessary healthcare cost. All calls are documented in our poison database. Most of home callers are managed at home with telephone follow-up by our specialists in poison information.  TPC has saved the state of Tennessee up to $10,000,000 annually in tax payer dollars by keeping patients with minimal toxicity out of the emergency departments.

Our education and outreach are directed by Josephine Darwin.  Last year the TPC distributed 316,642 pieces of poison prevention materials and our staff made over 100 presentations to the public and healthcare professionals.

There is a bedside toxicology consult service at Vanderbilt.  If you have a patient with an overdose, an environmental exposure, snake or spider bite, drug reaction etc. you can place a consult for the toxicology service through EPIC just like you do for any other consult service. 

We hope that you call the Poison Center regarding overdose patients, environmental exposures, and snake or spider bites.  It always helps to discuss a case that you don’t see every day. All calls are documented in our poison database. From this information, we provide data to the Tennessee Department of Health as well as the National Poisoning Drug Database managed by AAPCC.  All accredited poison centers upload their data every 8 minutes to the National Poisoning Drug Database. This provides real-time surveillance 24 hours/day for the entire country. If there are signs or symptoms that are greater than would otherwise occur at that time of day, we are immediately notified.  We can then assess the reason for the occurrence, determine if other poison centers have had similar notifications and notify the appropriate authorities.

Don’t hesitate to give us a call!  1-800-222-1222


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Donna Seger, MD

Medical Director

Tennessee Poison Center

Poison Help Hotline: 1-800-222-1222