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Bill would reauthorize Poison Control Center Network program

The bill will provide continued support for the Alabama Poison Information Center in Birmingham.

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Last week, Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville joined senators across party lines to reauthorize the Poison Control Centers Network program through 2024. The actual contents of the Poison Control Center Reauthorization Act of 2024 are underwhelming, striking the phrase “fiscal years of 2020 through 2024” and inserting the phrase “fiscal years of 2025 through 2029” into the three sections of the original act.

The work that the PCC Network reauthorization will promote includes their national media campaign and the national toll-free number. On the homefront, Alabama’s own residents will also benefit from the continued support of the state’s only poison control center.

The Alabama Poison Information Center, located at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham, is one of 55 poison control centers and was the 14th poison control center established in the country. In its first years, its services focused on assisting physicians but was later opened up to the general public. 

The center is still a valuable resource for healthcare providers, making up 27 percent of the calls received in 2023. In 2023, the APIC received or returned 107,064 calls to the Poison Center, 47,458 incoming and 59,606 follow-up calls, for a total of 37,167 cases managed. Some of these cases would’ve otherwise resulted in trips to emergency rooms or urgent care facilities but were solved at home.

Not only does this lighten the load at hospitals, but in a state with a sizable healthcare coverage gap, this free and accessible resource could prevent an unidentifiable snake or common household cleaner from resulting in unnecessary hospital bills. 

Staffed by nationally certified pharmacists and nurses trained in toxicology, the hotline is available all hours of the day, every day and calls are confidential. 

The Poison Center received its largest volume of calls from parents of children under 6 years old, accounting for 15,972 incoming calls in 2023. More than 92 percent of these calls were de-escalated and alleviated in-home rather than being referred to a healthcare facility. 

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APIC has a range of outreach programs designed to engage with the public they serve and provide poison control information directly to Alabamians. In 2023, alongside Healthy Child Care of Alabama, APIC provided over 2,000 poison prevention programs, reaching parents in all 67 counties. 

Mary Claire is a reporting intern.

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