Poison Centers benefit patients, reduce medical costs, study finds

March 11, 2014

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."

Explore further: Study finds seasonal trends in suicide attempts

Related Stories

Study finds seasonal trends in suicide attempts

February 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 6, 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 at the Central ...

Decriminalizing pot may land more kids in the ER

February 5, 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 ...

@Toxicology in the Twittersphere: More than just 140 characters

November 11, 2013
A valuable role exists for the use of social media in medicine, new research has shown.

Study shows preschoolers affected by medication-related poisonings at alarming rate

May 16, 2013
Poisonings in young children have increased over the past decade, mainly due to medications in the home. A new study led by the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital, found that medication-related poisonings ...

Poisoning 'Can happen to anyone'

June 8, 2012
(HealthDay) -- It's easy to think that a poisoning won't happen to you or someone you love, especially if you've taken precautions like locking up your cleaning products and other chemicals.

Recommended for you

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.


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.