Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Glade Sun

July 3, 2014

Tennessee Poison Center provides emergency help

CROSSVILLE — Poisoning is the leading cause of death in Tennessee, surpassing even motor vehicle accidents. Tennessee Poison Center is the only organization in Cumberland County or in Tennessee that can provide immediate medical help in the event of a poison emergency. When a resident calls the Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222, the call is answered by a nurse or physician who has extensive poison management experience. Calls are fast, free and confidential. Poison centers are for everyone. Parents and babysitters call poison centers when young children have become exposed to toxic substances. Seniors use poison centers when they fear they may have made an error in taking their medicine. And doctors, nurses, pharmacists and emergency room staff place calls daily to the Poison Help number for treatment advice on drug- or poison-related cases.

Here’s an example of a call to the Poison Help hotline: “Getting ready for bed one recent evening, I absentmindedly opened the morning rather than the evening section of my pill container and took the morning pills for the second time that day. I was concerned that two doses of my diabetes and blood pressure meds might not be a good idea! My pharmacist was concerned about the blood pressure medicine, and she told me to call Tennessee Poison Center. The person who answered the phone was very helpful and reassuring, telling me that it would not be a problem. I went to bed and slept soundly, thanks to his telling me I had nothing to be concerned about.“

The United Fund provides funds to help pay for the hotline calls from Cumberland County residents. Last year, Tennessee Poison Center received 1,055 calls from Cumberland County residents. Without the United Fund, the Poison Center would not be able to provide this critical service. 

Poison centers are also a highly cost-effective source of health care. For every dollar spent on poison centers, $13 dollars are saved in unnecessary health-care costs. About 75 percent of callers are able to be treated at home, thus avoiding the far more costly hospital or doctor’s office visits. Tennessee Poison Center also provides outreach to Cumberland County residents, to reduce both the number and severity of poison exposures. It is estimated that poison center services, in addition to saving lives, are three times as cost-effective as child safety seats, bicycle helmets and smoke detectors and are as cost-effective as childhood immunizations.

What can you do to prevent poisonings?

•  Keep medicines and cleaning supplies locked up and away from children. Children act fast. Unfortunately, so do poisons. 

• Always use your glasses to read your prescription bottle, and only take medicine with the lights on. These simple actions can prevent accidents.

• Ask visitors to keep purses and luggage containing medicine out of reach of children at all times.

•  Install carbon monoxide detectors and check batteries at least twice a year.

• Keep the 1- 800-222-1222 number accessible and programmed into your phone. Tennessee Poison Center can send you magnets and stickers with the number.  Call the Poison Help number even if it’s not an emergency. When in doubt, check it out.

Tennessee Poison Center offers literature on poison prevention as a free community service. For more information, contact Tennessee Poison Center by calling toll-free at 1-800-222-1222 or visit the website at

Together the United Fund and Tennessee Poison Center save lives and save valuable healthcare dollars. Tennessee Poison Center is just one way that your United Fund dollars help the community. Thank you United Fund.

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