Health Department Releases Poison Control Center Data

In 2016, more than 63,000 potential poisoning cases were reported to the Poison Control Center

Call rates to the Poison Control Center were lower from poor neighborhoods compared to wealthy neighborhoods

The PCC is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 212-POISONS for treatment advice about exposures to poisons or questions about medicine safety

November 5, 2018 – The Health Department today released a Vital Signs report highlighting data from its Poison Control Center (PCC). The report provides data on unintentional and intentional poisoning exposures. More than 63,000 potential poisoning cases were reported to the PCC in 2016, nearly 80 percent of which were unintentional poisonings. Among all unintentional cases, 41 percent involved children under the age of 6 in which personal care products and household cleaners were the most common poisoning substances. More than 6,000 potential poisoning cases involved intentional suicide attempts. The data also revealed disparities in PCC calling rates and case disposition. Call rates to the PCC were lower from very high-poverty neighborhoods (150 calls per 100,000 people) compared to wealthy neighborhoods (316 calls per 100,000 people), and very high-poverty neighborhoods had higher rates of poisoning calls resulting in hospital admission. Read the full report (PDF). New Yorkers can always reach the Poison Control Center 24/7 at 212-POISONS.

“Thousands of city residents are poisoned in the city every year. These poisonings can be prevented. Storing household products and medications where children can’t get to them can protect young children from serious harm,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “In addition, posting a medication log in the home can help prevent medication errors, another common reason poisonings occur. Our Poison Control Center is an important resource for all New Yorkers, providing treatment advice if a suspected poisoning occurs and offering tips on medicine safety. Keep their number — 212-POISONS — handy at all times.”

The PCC is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for treatment advice about exposures to poisons or questions about medicine safety. Calls are answered by registered pharmacists and nurses certified in poison information. All calls are free and confidential. Translation services are available in over 150 languages. The Health Department also conducts poison prevention and medicine safety workshops for health care and other community providers, older adults, parents/caregivers and community groups. There are other resources available online – a  training on preventing poisonings in the home and educational materials in multiple languages. To learn more, visit the Poison Control page.

Additional report highlights include

  • About 4,000 potential poisoning cases involved intentional abuse, including misuse of a substance. Pain medications were the most common substances involved in intentional overdoses.
  • Non-opioid pain medications were often involved in poisoning exposures among all age groups.
  • Among adults over age 19, the number of exposures to sedative-hypnotic drugs (specifically to benzodiazepines) was twice the number of exposures to opioids and stimulants or street drugs (including synthetic cannabinoids, cocaine and amphetamines).
  • Cases of unintentional poisoning due to medication error represented 12 percent of the total cases managed by the PCC and occurred most often in adults between the ages of 20 and 59 years old.
  • The neighborhoods with the highest call rates were in Manhattan and Brooklyn and neighborhoods in Queens had the lowest rates.
  • Hospitalization was a rare event, but when it did occur, the rate of poisoning calls resulting in hospital admission was higher in very high-poverty neighborhoods (96 per 100,000 people) than in the lowest-poverty neighborhoods (69 per 100,000 people).
  • Sixty-one percent of all potential poisoning exposure cases were managed at the site of the exposure and did not require a visit to a health care provider or an emergency room; 13 percent were treated and released from the emergency department; and 12 percent required hospitalization.

Recommendations

  • Save the PCC’s number in your cell phone: 212-POISONS, (212) 764-7667.
  • Keep all medications, household products and chemicals out of reach of children.
  • Store non-food products in original containers with the labels intact.
  • Use a medication log to keep track of medications given to young children or older adults.
  • Call PCC anytime with questions about unintentional or intentional poisonings, safe use of household products, medication dosing, side effects and interactions.

The New York City Poison Control Center

The Poison Control Center (PCC) provides free and confidential treatment advice and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with translation services in more than 150 languages. Calls are answered by registered pharmacists and nurses certified in poison information. The PCC’s aim is to reduce unnecessary emergency department visits. The PCC handles calls from NYC’s five boroughs, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties. To learn more, visit the Poison Control page.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Danielle De Souza (347) 396-4177
PressOffice@health.nyc.gov