Monday, November 20, 2017

TPCN Spotlight: Specialist in Poison Information (SPI)

1. Tell me your history with poison  control and how you became a SPI. (Length of time worked  there/background/passion for this, etc.)

Hi I am Misty Wilcken RN CSPI-2. I completed my Bachelor of chemistry in 2001.  My first job  out of college was as a synthetic organic chemist.  I  worked for UTMB in the Synthetic Chemistry Core Laboratory  for 5 years prior to changing my career.  I completed UTMB BAC2 accelerated nursing school and received a second  Bachelor degree in Nursing.  I started my nursing career working for Shriners Burn pediatric ICU. 

Due to hurricane Ike, I was forced to find another position.  I had hoped to  find something challenging that involved the community and  children, and I found just that when I was hired on as a  Specialist in Poison Information in 2009.  My background  has allowed me to excel in this field.  I love calming  panicked moms, and advising other health care professionals  with regards to things like envenimations, ingestions,  drug overdoses, and chemical exposures. I also love learning  something new every day in the broad fields of pharmacology  and toxicology. 

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.

 Some of the scariest stories are people putting chemicals or drugs in  food containers or in beverage bottles.  Kids drinking lighter fluid thinking it is water or tiki torch fuel thinking it is apple juice.  I also had a lady call about her husband eating hair relaxer.  She had put in a sour  cream container, and had left it in the fridge, and he put  it on his baked potato.

I also remember a case where a dad  had picked up his brothers impounded car and cleaned it  out.  He put what he thought was just Gatorade in his  fridge and the kids drank it.  The kids ended up in the ER intoxicated off ecstasy.  They had to get a hold of the  brother in jail to find out what was in the Gatorade. People  bring stuff home from work like cleaners, and pesticides in  water bottles and someone drinks it. It is very common for people to put bleach in a cup to clean it and then turn around and drink it on accident.

3. What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones  for poison control?

 A good part of our service involves triage.  We try to keep people  out of the emergency rooms if possible.  Half of our calls  are concerning 1-3 year olds who think pills are candy, and all  liquids are beverages.  They get the pill minders, and pill  bottles, and at least try the pills.  They also try to  drink nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, bleach, hydrogen  peroxide, and bottles of liquid medicine.  We advise the  parents what to watch for and decide if they should go to  the emergency room for observation and possible treatment.  We are also  here to answer questions about medication errors, other accidental ingestion's, bites and stings,  and drug interactions.

4. What do you enjoy most about your job and why?

 I enjoy talking people through their often  scary situations, and saving them a trip to the ER, if  possible.  I am glad to be a resource for other medical  professionals when they call for consultation, and sometimes  helping them save a life.  I like learning about the drugs,  plants, critters, and chemicals. There is something new I  have to research almost every day.  I also like that we keep track of the cause and effect, so that we can better  treat these situations in the future.

5. Why do you think it is important for people to have poison  control as a resource for emergency help?

We are an important resource for the public  and for health care professionals.  We save a lot of money  in unnecessary ER visits and are a reliable source of information.  We are available 24 hours to answer questions and give advice. We put a lot of people's minds at ease.  They  look stuff up online and panic, and then call us to get a  professional opinion.



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