FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the toll-free number to call the Poison Center?

1-800-222-1222 is a national number. It will call the nearest U.S. Poison Center based on your phone’s area code.  Please save the number in your phone contacts. You can easily add the number by texting the word ‘Poison’ to 797979.

What should l do if I think someone is poisoned?

If you think someone is poisoned or if you have a question about a poison, you should contact the Poison Center by calling 1-800-222-1222. If the person is unconscious, having difficulty breathing or having a seizure, you should dial 9-1-1. 


How can I call the Poison Helpline if I am deaf or hard of hearing? 

Relay Oklahoma is a service that allows voice telephone users to connect with the deaf or hard of hearing. This service is free, and available 24 hours a day.
To reach Relay Oklahoma dial 711 or toll-free 800-722-0353 or for Spanish Relay Oklahoma dial 800-662-4955.

How can I call the Poison Helpline if I do not speak English? 

For non-English speaking persons we are able to communicate in more than 150 languages. The caller will be asked if he/she would like an interpreter at the beginning of call and may be placed on hold briefly to connect with an interpreter.

What should I expect when I call the Poison Center? 

Our specialists may ask for the following information before they are able to provide callers with treatment recommendations in the case of a poison emergency:

  • Name of caller
  • Zip Code
  • Phone Number
  • Name and age of poisoned person (depends on call)
  • Name of product (depends on call)
  • Amount of product missing or ingested
  • Dose or concentration of product
  • Past Medical History: Allergies/Medication


Can I call the helpline 1-800-222-1222 if it is not an emergency?

Yes, you can call the Poison Helpline with questions. It does not have to be an emergency to call. You may be placed on hold if an emergency call comes in during a non-emergency call.


When should I call 911 and when to call the Poison Center? 

If the person is not conscious or not breathing, call 9-1-1 immediately. The  9-1-1 services will dispatch an ambulance, police and/or fire if necessary.  If the person is conscious and breathing, call the Poison Center right away even if you are not sure.  Do not wait for the person to look, feel or get sick. 


How much does it cost to call the Poison Center?

It is free to call. 


What are the Poison Center hours?

We answer the phones 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. 


When should I call?

You can call the Poison Center if you have a question, or suspect that you or someone has encountered something harmful or poisonous. We can help the public, health care professionals and first responders with help regarding:

  • Chemicals at home or in work environments
  • Plants, pesticides or gases
  • Drugs – prescription, over-the –counter, illegal,  or veterinary
  • Vitamins, herbals and supplements Bites & stings – bugs, animals, snakes
  • Food poisonings 

Who will answer my call? 

Medical professionals (pharmacists and nurses) with advanced training in toxicology answer calls. If all available specialists are answering other calls you will have the option of holding for the next specialist or leaving a message.

What kind of additional information would I need to provide when I call?

It is important to remember that the information you share with us is necessary to properly assess the situation and to give the most accurate recommendations.

Additional information you may be asked for includes:

  • Age of the person involved
  •  Weight of the person involved
  • Information about the product or potentially harmful substance – bring bottle or container to the phone if possible
  • Current health status of person involved 
  • Health history of the person 
  • Time of exposure
  • Your zip code
  •  Person's/patient's first name 
  • Phone number – We follow up with most of our callers to ensure no other symptoms have occurred

What services does the Poison Center offer?

  • Drug Information (adverse effects, calculations, generic/brand name, dosage, contraindications, drug-drug interactions, medication disposal)
  • Environmental Information (carbon monoxide, general questions about contamination of soil/air, lead, mercury, mercury thermometer cleanup, radiation)
  • Medical Information (general poison-related first aid, medical toxicology terminology, assistance in locating antidotes and antivenin)
  • Occupational Information (chemicals in the workplace, MSDS interpretation, safety guidelines, decontamination recommendations)
  • Poison Information (toxicology, food poisoning, food preparation/handling practices, plant toxicity, safe use of household products)
  • Prevention/Safety Information (poison safety and prevention questions, educational presentations for the public and healthcare professionals, media consultations, educational materials, pharmaceutical disposal information)


What happens with the information I give the Poison Center? Can my information be reported to other agencies?


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations in 45CFR parts 160 and 164 as published in the Federal Register classifies poison centers as health care providers, authorized to share protected patient information with providers of direct patient care such as a physician.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has provided the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) with a grant of authority to conduct surveillance activities and to function as a public health authority. This allows covered entities to disclose protected health information on certain diseases, injuries, and conditions without the authorization of the individual for statistical and public health purposes. Furthermore, on page 82626 of these HIPAA Privacy Rules please note that poison control centers are health care providers for the purposes of this rule. Counseling and follow-up consultations provided by poison centers with individual providers regarding patient outcomes is considered to be treatment. Therefore, Poison Control Centers and other healthcare providers can share protected health information about the treatment of an individual without a business associate contract As a Health Care Provider, the Poison Control Center is also required to comply with the Privacy Regulations.

OCPDI protocol requires telephone follow-up of all potentially toxic exposures with layperson's as well as health professionals. All regional Poison Control Centers in the United States share this same protocol for the following reasons:

Medical consultants are expected to routinely follow their cases. Center Specialists are licensed pharmacists and registered nurses that are utilized by other health professionals as medical consultants in poisoning exposures.
Data collection, as a clear function of each follow-up call, enables the OCPDI to evaluate their protocols, perform quality assurance studies, identify state trends and concerns, and gather toxicity data on new drugs and products.
Outcome data obtained through telephone follow-up are utilized to facilitate the public health effort to prevent and better treat poisonings. Summary data from Oklahoma are reported to the National Poison Data System operated by American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). AAPCC is the only national health organization that surveys the epidemiology of poisonings in the United States.
All patient information is confidential. Data reported to the AAPCC 's National Poison Data System excludes the identity of the patient and even their state of residence. The licensed healthcare professionals staffing the OCPDI maintain all patient records according to the statues and rules regulating medical records in the state of Oklahoma. Strict patient confidentiality is maintained.
Health care professionals are encouraged to help the OCPDI by cooperating with our Poison Specialists who will be calling for follow-up information.

Do you work with health care providers? 

We work side-by-side with health care providers and first responders across Oklahoma and can recommend the best and most current treatment advice for poisonings.