Pittsburgh Poison Center Celebrates National Poison Prevention Week

By Anita Srikameswaran 

The Pittsburgh Poison Center will join poison centers around the country in celebrating National Poison Prevention Week March 17 through 23.

Michael Lynch, M.D., medical director of Pittsburgh Poison Center, which is located at UPMC Presbyterian, said that like the local site, America’s other 56 poison centers are committed to safeguarding the health and well-being of every American through poison prevention and free, confidential, expert medical services.

“Our number is 1-800-222-1222. Program your cell phone with the Poison Help number and post it near your home phone,” Dr. Lynch advised. “If the unthinkable happens, it’s good to know help is just a phone call away.”

Poisoning can occur at anytime and to anyone, he said. The Center takes calls around the clock to help those who have been exposed to a poison and to answer the public’s questions about a potential poisoning.

“We also reach out to our communities with information about how poisonings occur and ways to prevent them. Prevention is the best possible medicine,” Dr. Lynch said.

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Poison Center made and received over 150,000 calls regarding public health and safety issues.

U.S. poison centers answered more than 3.6 million calls in 2011, including about 2.3 million calls about human exposures to poisons, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. About 90 percent of the people who called with poison emergencies were treated at home following the advice of poison center experts, saving millions of dollars in medical expenses.

National Poison Prevention Week, established by the U.S. Congress, is commissioned by the Poison Prevention Week Council, an organization of public and private partners committed to reducing unintentional poisonings and promoting poison prevention. It occurs annually during the third week of March.