California Poison Control System Q&A



1.                   What does the California Poison Control System do?

††††††††††† The California Poison Control System (CPCS) is a statewide network of trained experts providing ††††††††††† treatment advice and referral assistance to the public and health professionals through a toll-free ††††††††††† emergency hotline number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The CPCS is also the ††††††††††† leading source for poison information, prevention and education in California providing educational ††††††††††† materials, consultation services and programs for all age groups.


2.                   Why would someone call the CPCS?

To access fast, free and confidential professional medical advice in the case of a poison exposure.


3.                   Is there a fee to call the CPCS?

No. The service is free.


4.                   What would a person do who does not speak English?

The CPCS provides a 24-hour interpreter service for over 100 languages.When a call is received from a non-English speaking individual, the caller should state their language, and then a three-way conversation between that caller, the poison center and an interpreter can be underway in less than a minute.Interpreters can also assist in determining what language a caller is speaking.


5.                   Who are the people that answer the phone?

Pharmacists, nurses and poison information providers answer the phones.Many are also Certified Specialists in Poison Information (CSPI) who have passed a national toxicology examination sponsored by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).Pharmacists and nurses supervise the poison information providers, and all staff members are supported by a board-certified physician toxicologist at all times.


6.                   What age group seems to have the highest incidence of poisonings?

In general, children 5 years and younger accounted for approximately 52% of poisonings.


7.                   Where do most poisonings occur?

Most poisonings occur in the home.


8.                   What are some of the products most commonly ingested by children?

In 1999, analgesics (including acetaminophen), cosmetics and personal care products (such as cologne/perfume and after-shave) and household cleaning substances (including bleach) were among the most commonly ingested.


9.                   Are some more serious than others?

Yes. Often, the degree of seriousness depends on a number of variables.The poison information specialist has to consider how much of the substance was involved, what the victim weighs and when the poisoning occurred.


10.               What attracts young children to poisonous products?

Accessibility, colorful packaging, and a likeness to something they CAN and DO eat at home.


11.               Has child resistant packaging helped?

Yes. Since requirements went into effect in the 1970ís, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of recorded poisonings.However, many products, including some very dangerous common household products, still do not have child resistant closures


12.               What is the phone number for people to call?††††††††††† ††††††††††† 1-800-876-4766



13.               Do you have information that can be sent to people about how to make their home safe from poisons?

Yes.We encourage everyone to call the Education Materials/Program voicemail line at 1-800-582-3387 to get poison information brochures, phone stickers and other important information.


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