Monday, April 27, 2020
1. Tell me your history with poison control and how you became a SPI. (Length of time worked there/background/passion for this, etc.)
I have worked as a SPI for nearing two years, starting at the New Mexico Poison & Drug Information Center and now currently at the South Texas Poison Center. I have had an interest in poison control since I was a student pharmacist at the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy. I served as Poison Prevention Co-Chair for the Student Society of Health-System Pharmacy professional organization at my school during my 2nd year and completed a rotation at the New Mexico Poison & Drug Information Center during my 4th year. After graduating pharmacy school, I completed a PGY-1 Community Pharmacy Residency with Baylor Scott & White Health. I was able to do a rotation at the Central Texas Poison Center where my passion for poison control grew even further. I appreciate that I get to directly help my community by providing quality information to patients and providers in emergency situations.
2. I’m sure you hear a lot of interesting stories when answering calls, but what is one story that sticks out in your head that might have been scary, but turned out funny and/or everything worked out after the call.
I got a call from a mom recently and her child had got into a Tide Pod that had burst in the child’s mouth, the child was vomiting at the time and mom was very concerned. I told mom that we can watch this at home since it had just happened and sometimes the soap in the Tide Pods can be upsetting to the stomach. I told mom what "red flag" symptoms that she would need to go immediately to the hospital for (continued vomiting, trouble breathing, drowsiness or coughing). When I called back mom didn’t answer, but after the second call a few hours later I was able to speak with mom. She ended up taking the child to the hospital because of drowsiness. The patient developed no further symptoms at the hospital. Mom voiced gratitude for poison control being there to walk her through a scary situation and that I had taken the time to follow-up with her to make sure the child was okay.
3. What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for poison control?
Often callers wonder why we ask so many questions during a call from their child’s weight to whether they have any health problems. I think people need to know that the specialists who answer the phones are healthcare providers who are actively making decisions that impact each individual patient’s care.
4. What do you enjoy most about your job and why?
As a pharmacist I have always enjoyed explaining something that can be complex in a way that a patient can understand. With poison control I am able to do this, and I enjoy working with unique and interesting cases.
5. Why do you think it is important for people to have poison control as a resource for emergency help?
I think it is important for people to have poison control as a resource because many exposures can be managed at home, which is a huge cost saver for patients and for the public.
Thursday, April 16, 2020
Every day, by the hour, lives are being saved. Why? Because of the presence of poison control centers. Across the nation there exist 55 poison centers who assist with various poisoning emergencies as well as answer questions and provide any information to help prevent poisonings. Specially trained poison experts, known as Specialists in Poison Information (SPI), at each poison center include nurses, pharmacists, toxicologists and physicians. They can be reached 24 hours a day by calling the toll-free Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222, which then connects you with your local poison center.
The idea for a poison center came from a part-time secretary from the American Academy of Pediatrics during the early 1950s. The secretary contacted hospitals in Chicago to find out why children were in the emergency room with certain problems. What had they eaten? What did they drink?
At the time, companies did not have to tell people much about the ingredients in their products. The secretary asked companies about the ingredients in their products that might be making children sick. She then asked a group of medical professionals to create treatment guidelines for as many products as possible. When doctors had questions, they would call her, and she would read medical advice to them off the note cards.
Soon after, the U.S. Surgeon General ordered copies of her 1,000 index cards to be sent to health departments across the country. From this, the first poison center was founded, and the idea spread throughout the nation.
What do Poison Centers Offer
· Help with a poisoning emergency, which can often be treated over the phone rather than calling 911 or visiting the emergency room. (Which saves Emergency Rooms or Ambulance costs)
· Medical advice for healthcare professionals and the general public.
· Real-time de-identified data collection that aids in detecting public health emergencies.
· Free and confidential help, with interpretation services available in over 100 languages.
· Assistance with pill identification.
· Help with all types of poisonings including insect, snake or spider bites, plants, household chemicals, medication mix ups or overdoses and more.
· Poison Prevention Poster and Video Contest Annually
· Free educational materials
· Free educational presentations
What information to have readily available when calling a poison control center?
· How old is the patient?
· About how much does the patient weigh?
· What is the name of the product or substance involved? Be as specific as you can-it can help to have the bottle or packaging with you on the phone. Poison experts use a database that contains detailed information on thousands of products.
· How much of the substance did the patient swallow, breathe in or get on their skin? If you don't know, the poison specialist will help you estimate.
Based on this information, the poison specialist will tell you what you need to do. It could be as simple as drinking some water or eating a Popsicle. In some circumstances, they may need to send you to the hospital. If so, they will ask which hospital you are closest to and call ahead to let them know you are coming.
The poison center will also collect a little bit of personal information from you for your medical chart-your first name, the patient's first name, your phone number and the zip code you are calling from. This information is confidential. This information is important because it helps us to find your case if you need to call us back for any reason.
For questions or concerns, call the Texas Poison Center Network experts at 1-800-222-1222.