Friday, September 25, 2020

TPCN Spotlight: North Texas SPI Arpan Patel

  1. Tell me your history with poison control and how you became a Specialist in Poison Information (SPI).

    My journey into the realms of poison control began in March 2019. I believe I found the opportunity to work at a poison center by chance, as I had no idea it was something I could do with my educational background. Working at NTPC has solidified my understanding of the important role poison control centers play in serving the community.  
  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. 

    Insulin calls during the evenings are always memorable as they involve frequent callbacks throughout the night. Callers are always appreciative of the concern we show them by checking in on them and the education we provide to prevent similar episodes in the future. 
  3. What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for poison control? 

    We are medical professionals who provide medical assistance and care to a variety of individuals including healthcare workers and the general public.  As a result, it’s second nature for us to ask a lot of questions to get a better idea of what’s happening so we can give accurate recommendations. 

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

    It’s humbling to be able to help callers daily and make a difference.  
  5. Why do you think it is important for people to have poison control as a resource for emergency help? 

    Apart from playing a key role in formulating treatment plans for sick patients, poison control centers reduce overall healthcare costs by preventing unnecessary ER visits and hospitalizations. This conserves healthcare resources for those requiring it the most and has proven beneficial especially during the current pandemic.  

Monday, September 21, 2020

Baby Safety Month: Tips on Keeping Babies Safe at Home

September is Baby Safety Month. With children at home more than ever, it is even more important that medications and cleaners, just to name a few of the dangers lurking at home, are locked and stored up and away and out of sight of young children. Having babies in the home can be an exciting time. To keep your home safe and fun for the little ones, make sure to follow these important tips from the Texas Poison Center Network.

Poison Safety Tips

·       First and foremost, pull out your cell phone and save this number, you never know when you might need it! Poison Center Help: 1-800-222-1222.

·       When it comes to measuring medications for babies, always use measuring syringes or dropper provided with the medication from the pharmacist or doctor. Also, always make sure you give them the correct amount.

·       Cleaning products, usually stored under cabinets, should be moved to another location that is out of sight and out of reach of young children.

·       Remember, once your baby is crawling, he or she can get to anything on the floor. That means you want to ensure there are no dangers within reach (roach bait, rat poison, medications dropped by mistake, etc.)

·       Medicine needs to be out of reach and locked up and away too. Is a purse or a nightstand a good place for your medications? Not with a baby or children around. Lock them up somewhere out of reach. 

·       Children’s medicines, like vitamins and cough syrup, can taste great to kids! If your child can get to these medicines, he or she may take the entire bottle.  Keep all medicines locked up and out of reach.

·       Check your yard for any poisonous plants or flowers too. You never know what babies will put in their mouth.

These are just a few important tips to help ensure your baby stays poison-free. For more information on poison control and tips for babysitters and more, please visit the Texas Poison Center Network website at And if you EVER find yourself or a loved one in a poison emergency, please do not hesitate to call us for help at 1-800-222-1222.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

FDA Puts Limits on Arsenic in Baby Rice Cereal

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final limit on the amounts of arsenic in baby rice cereal. This is the first time the FDA has put any limits on any food that could contain arsenic.

It is widely known that white cereals with certain grains can sometimes contain arsenic, but rice cereals can be much higher. Rice cereals, due to their absorption rate, may contain up to ten times more of the heavy metal. 

What is Arsenic?

According to the CDC, arsenic is a naturally occurring element that can combine with either inorganic or organic substances to form many different compounds. Simply stated, inorganic arsenic compounds can be found in soils, sediments, and groundwater. These compounds can happen either naturally or because of mining, smelting, or when using arsenic for industrial purposes. Organic arsenic compounds, on the other hand, are found primarily in fish and shellfish.

Here’s an interesting fact! Back in the day people used inorganic forms of arsenic in pesticides and paint pigment. People also used them thinking they were good for preserving woods as well a way to treat a variety of ailments. Luckily, we know better now and there are laws that restrict using arsenic-containing pesticides, wood preservatives, and medicines.

The Effects of Arsenic on Your Health

According to the CDC, large doses of inorganic arsenic can cause symptoms ranging from nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea to dehydration and shock. Long-term exposure can cause certain medical conditions such as skin disorders, high blood pressure, and even several types of cancer.

The FDA has now established a limit for inorganic arsenic of 100 parts per billion (ppb) in baby food. This is a voluntary limit and unenforceable currently. With the cooperation of makers of these products, we can hope to see arsenic completely out of baby foods. For more information on arsenic in food products, please visit the FDA link here.

If you or a loved one is experience symptoms like these, please reach out to the Texas Poison Center Network for guidance and help. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-222-1222.