National Capital Poison Center
At a Glance
The National Capital Poison Center, founded in 1980, is an independent, private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with The George Washington University Medical Center. In recognition of its high quality, the Center is
accredited by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
The mission of the Poison Center is to prevent poisonings, save lives, and limit injury from poisoning. In addition to saving lives, the Center decreases health care costs of poisoning cases.
24-hour telephone guidance for poisoning emergencies is provided, free of charge, by Certified Specialists in Poison Information, with back-up by board-certified physician toxicologists. The Specialist continues to follow each case, with frequent calls back, until all symptoms have resolved and parents and patients are reassured. It is the combination of experienced Certified Specialists in Poison Information and frequent telephone follow-up which makes treatment at home possible and safe.
More than 82% of the poisonings
in patients who call the Poison Center before going to a health care
facility can be managed entirely at home, with telephone guidance from the Poison Center.
This number increases to 90% for pediatric poisonings when the
Poison Center is consulted first, before other medical intervention
Poison prevention education is delivered through:
1) Distribution of more than 1.25 million teaching/prevention
materials (stickers, magnets, brochures, DVDs, posters) for
every child enrolled in every preschool or child care center
and to all pediatrician offices and health clinics in the
area. Materials are also distributed through
hospitals, health fairs, fire departments, community and
church groups, Safe Kids coalitions, PTAs, school nurses,
and classes for babysitters and new parents;
2) Media-based programs (press releases, interviews, public
service announcements, radio and TV appearances).
3) The Poison Post®, the Center's eNewsletter, delivering updates on
poisoning hazards to 32,000 readers.
Facebook page (National Capital Poison Center) where
time sensitive prevention and awareness messages are posted.
Hazard detection and elimination through poisoning surveillance. Poisonings are best prevented by detecting unusual hazards and working with industry and regulatory agencies to reformulate, repackage or ban unnecessarily hazardous products before children are needlessly injured. The Center has an active product surveillance program and has taken the lead in numerous regulatory petitions and industry and consumer alerts.
Professional education in state-of-the-art treatment of
poisonings is provided for more than 3,200 physicians, medical students, residents, nurses and paramedics each year.
Health care cost-containment. The residents of the region save
at least $18 million annually in unnecessary health care costs by using the Poison Center. By handling
64% of poison exposure cases over the phone at home, the Center helps poisoned patients avoid the cost (and stress of) unnecessary emergency department visits and ambulance runs. Studies have shown that poison centers are at least three times more cost effective than child safety seats, smoke detectors, or bicycle helmets.
CALL VOLUME (2013):
54,534 telephone consultations including:
telephone management for 38,197 human poison exposures and 1,566
pet poisonings, including 12,258 consultations to physicians and nurses caring for the poisoned patients.
14,771 calls for medical, drug, or poison prevention information.
Maryland: Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties
National scope for product safety surveillance projects.
Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, and
Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park Cities
ANNUAL BUDGET: $3.4 million, supported through grants and contributions
Director (a medical toxicologist)
Medical Toxicologist (part time)
Clinical Toxicologist/Educator (part time)
12 Certified Specialists in Poison Information
Executive Associate and Student Assistants
Network Administrator (part time)
Address: 3201 New Mexico Ave, Suite 310 Washington, DC 20016
Administrative Line: 202-362-3867
Emergency Line: 1-800-222-1222
(If you email an inquiry, please provide your name, address and phone