Poison control centers: Use us, not the Internet, for reliable info

Alexandria, VA – Fewer people are contacting poison control centers for information, and a group that represents the centers is concerned that the decline could lead to poisonings with more severe outcomes.

Poison control centers received 9.3 percent fewer calls in 2013 than the previous year, according to an annual report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System.

The decline is mostly due to a 26.8 percent decrease in requests for medication identification, the report states. The association points to reliance on online resources as a likely contributing factor, and notes that exposures with more serious outcomes – including death – have increased by 4.7 percent yearly since 2000.

“While poison centers remain an unequivocal source for reliable and accurate poison exposure information, it is feared that people are turning to far too unreliable sources like the Internet, where misinformation can be posed as fact,” said James Mowry, lead author of the report. “When a poison exposure does occur or even for a basic question, it’s a safer alternative to call a local poison center instead of turning to a computer.”

The report was published in the December issue of Clinical Toxicology.