February 15, 2002

National hotline links callers to Middle Tennessee Poison Center

Featured Image

Dr. Ray DuBois will direct the new center.

A new nationwide hotline links people who need information about possible poisoning to professionals at the poison center closest to them. For people in Davidson County and 56 surrounding counties, it means one phone call puts them in touch with the Middle Tennessee Poison Center, located at Vanderbilt.

“This national hotline (800-222-1222) is an invaluable new resource for Tennessee families,” said Josephine Darwin, Director of Community Outreach for the Middle Tennessee Poison Center. “It will help ensure that no matter where they are, they will always know the number for the experts at the closest local poison center. In an emergency, when every second counts, this information is vitally important and could save a life.”

By calling the new number, Tennessee residents will be automatically connected to specially trained nurses, pharmacists and doctors at the closest local poison facility. The poison experts will immediately respond to poison emergencies and answer poison-related questions about medications, household products and other potentially dangerous substances.

The Middle Tennessee Poison Center’s current toll-free number (800) 288-9999 will also continue to operate as it did prior to the new hotline, Darwin said. In 2000, the Middle Tennessee Poison Center handled more than 43,000 calls.

By connecting callers to the closest center, the national hotline is helping to ensure that callers can always reach health care specialists most familiar with local concerns and the local health care community, said Dr. Donna Seger, medical director of the Middle Tennessee Poison Center.

“We strongly encourage everyone to learn this new number so they can easily access it anytime and anywhere in the United States,” said Seger, assistant professor of Clinical Medicine. “This hotline is an important new tool in our continued effort to raise our residents’ awareness about poison dangers and how to prevent poisonings in the first place. We highly encourage Tennesseans to call and take advantage of this free and confidential service.”

The national effort to raise awareness about the new toll-free hotline is sponsored by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. A new Web site — www.1-800-222-1222.info — has also been developed to provide poison prevention information.