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National Poison Prevention Week: Remember 1-800-222-1222 for poison emergencies

Oregon Poison Center at OHSU reminds community to call the Poison Help line 24/7 for information, emergency treatment advice
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Jennifer Eskridge, community outreach educator with Oregon Poison Center at OHSU, describes the center’s mission during an event. This National Poison Prevention Week, the Oregon Poison Center urges community members to add the Poison Help line number to their phones, to have it before an emergency strikes. (OHSU/Christine Torres Hicks)
Jennifer Eskridge, community outreach educator with Oregon Poison Center at OHSU, describes the center’s mission during an event. This National Poison Prevention Week, the Oregon Poison Center urges community members to add the Poison Help line number to their phones, to have it before an emergency strikes. (OHSU/Christine Torres Hicks)

This National Poison Prevention Week, the Oregon Poison Center at Oregon Health & Science University encourages community members to add a new contact to their phones: the Poison Help line, 1-800-222-1222.

Rob Hendrickson, M.D. (OHSU)
Rob Hendrickson, M.D. (OHSU)

“Poisonings can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time. While the majority of poisonings happen in homes, they can also happen in the workplace, schools, out in nature and elsewhere. The good news is, many poisonings are preventable,” says Rob Hendrickson, M.D., medical director of the Oregon Poison Center at OHSU and professor of emergency medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine. “But if you need help, the poison center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. The service is fast, free and confidential.”

Established by Congress in 1961 and celebrated the third week of March, National Poison Prevention Week serves to raise awareness about poison control centers, the Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) and educate the public about how to prevent poisonings. Along with the nation’s 55 poison centers, the Oregon Poison Center at OHSU will celebrate the 63rd annual National Poison Prevention Week, March 17 - 23.

This year’s national theme is, “When the unexpected happens, Poison Help is here for you 24/7” — a reminder that the Poison Help Line is available in a poison emergency.

The Poison Help line is available 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222.

The Poison Help line is staffed by nurses and pharmacists with specialized training in toxicology who provide poison information and emergency treatment advice to the public, EMS and hospital clinicians caring for poisoned patients. The national toll-free number -- 1-800-222-1222 -- is available in all 50 states and many U.S. Territories. Interpreters are available in more than 150 languages.

The Oregon Poison Center manages 50,000 cases annually from families, health care professionals and others in the community seeking information and emergency treatment advice about poisonings. Approximately 90% of these calls are about people coming into contact with dangerous or potentially dangerous substances, also known as exposures. Among poison exposure calls, 75% are unintentional or accidental.

The top causes of poisonings managed by the Oregon Poison Center each year are from medicine — including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins and supplements — household cleaners, personal care products, alcohol and drugs. The unique landscape and potential hazards in the center’s service area means it also treats exposures to cannabis, marine biotoxin and venom from bites and stings, as well as wild mushroom and plant poisonings, among others.

Expert treatment advice provided by the Oregon Poison Center kept 93% of people calling about accidental exposures at home and out of hospitals in 2023, helping families save money and reducing the burden on the health care system.

The poison center’s top tip: Be prepared for a poison emergency by saving the Poison Help line in your phone. Share the contact with friends, family members and caregivers, and be prepared for a poison emergency at any time.

“You never know when you might need it,” Hendrickson says.

If you or a loved one is experiencing a poison emergency, call the Oregon Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. A clinician specially trained in toxicology is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The call is free and confidential. Poison prevention education and other poison safety resources are available at https://www.ohsu.edu/oregon-poison-center.  

The Oregon Poison Center is an Accredited by the American Association of Poison Control Center and  is a designated regional poison control center for Oregon, Alaska and Guam.

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