Poison Centers benefit patients, reduce medical costs, study finds

Patients who received help from a poison center had shorter hospital stays and lower hospital charges among those who are the most expensive to treat, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.

Poison centers provide 24-hour assistance year round to the public and to medical professionals. While studies show that poison centers reduce system-wide costs, their impact on patient outcomes at the level has not been clear, the study's authors report.

The researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of inpatients treated in Illinois hospitals in 2010. They linked data from the Illinois Poison Center to medical record data from the Illinois Hospital Association and controlled for patient- and facility-level variables.

Nearly 10,000 hospitalized treated for poison exposure were included in the study, and half received poison center assistance during the course of their treatment.

"We found that if the poison center was involved in patients' care there was a cumulative decrease of $2,078 in hospital charges per 10 patients," said Lee Friedman, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at UIC and lead author of the study, which was published in the March issue of Clinical Toxicology.

Hospital emergency rooms that placed calls to the Illinois Poison Center saved $2.1 million for the 10,272 patients they admitted for care in 2010, the researchers estimate. Had all 166,949 patients who were admitted to Illinois hospitals due to poisoning received assistance from a poison center, a potential savings of $34.6 million may have been realized.

The study also found the length of stay among poison center assisted patients was .058 days shorter, after adjusting for multiple variables.

Poison centers across the nation are not securely funded and often must depend on a combination of local discretionary support and donations, despite numerous studies showing that they provide system-wide savings by preventing poisonings, reducing unnecessary hospital visits and, as shown in this study, reducing cost of hospitalizations. Many poison centers have been closed or forced to reduce services due to budget cutbacks. It is estimated that only half of the U.S. population has access to a certified regional poison center, and Illinois' poison center is slated to close in June if funding is not secured.

"This study shows that hospitals, insurance companies, and government benefit financially from poison centers," said Friedman, "and an equitable system of cost sharing should be developed to ensure that poison centers can continue to provide services to the community."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study finds seasonal trends in suicide attempts

Feb 27, 2014

Studying national records of suicide attempts by poisoning, University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center researchers found trends in the season, week and day of suicide attempts.

Summer sees a spike in chemical injuries in kids

May 06, 2013

Hydrocarbons, a chemical compound commonly found in household items from cleaning products to gasoline, are among the top 10 causes of pediatric poisoning deaths in the United States. A new study by researchers ...

Decriminalizing pot may land more kids in the ER

Feb 05, 2014

States that decriminalized marijuana saw dramatic increases in children requiring medical intervention, although the overall number of unintentional marijuana exposures among children remained low. The Annals of Emergency Me ...

Recommended for you

Independent safety investigation needed in the NHS

1 hour ago

The NHS should follow the lead of aviation and other safety-critical industries and establish an independent safety investigation agency, according to a paper published today by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. The au ...

Sexual fantasies: Are you normal?

5 hours ago

Hoping for sex with two women is common but fantasizing about golden showers is not. That's just one of the findings from a research project that scientifically defines sexual deviation for the first time ever. It was undertaken ...

AMA 'Code of Ethics' offers guidance for physicians

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics and other articles provide guidance for physicians in relation to public health emergencies, according to a report from the AMA.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.