The Tennessee Poison Center (TPC) saves lives and helps reduce healthcare costs through these programs:
- A toll-free, medical telephone hotline (Poison Help 1-800-222-1222 ) for poison emergency and information calls. Poison specialists, who are registered nurses, pharmacists and physicians, answer the telephone hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. These poison specialists give first aid treatment advice or hospital referrals and answer poison questions. Two board-certified toxicologists provide medical back-up 24/7. All Tennessee calls to the Poison Help hotline will be answered by the poison specialists at the TPC. Currently, our poison specialists answer between 250-300 calls each day.
- Poison prevention education programs. Anyone can be a poison victim, at any time. Most poisonings involve medicines or household products. Though 49% of poison exposures involved children age five years and under, 86% of adults accounted for poison-related deaths in 2019. Poison prevention education efforts reach all 95 TN counties through a partnership with the University of Tennessee Extension Educators. This partnership won a Frist Foundation Award of Achievement in Team Building. In 2019, the TPC distributed over 239,414 pieces of poison prevention literature to residents and healthcare professionals statewide.
- Statewide surveillance for chemical and biological terrorism. The TPC is an integral part of Tennessee’s homeland security program. Data from the TPC is sent to Washington, D.C. as part of the nationwide surveillance for bioterrorism. No other organization in Tennessee provides statewide surveillance for a chemical or biological threats.
The Poison Help hotline is toll-free, and the education and surveillance programs are provided free of charge to Tennessee residents. The TPC receives funding from the state of Tennessee, federal government, institutional funding from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, hospitals that utilize our services, community funding in 13 United Way agencies, two foundations, one United Fund, and individual donations.
Thanks to the funding received, in 2019, the TPC saved the taxpayers of TN an estimated 18.1 million dollars by preventing unnecessary emergency department visits for the underinsured.