Each year during the third week of March, poison control centers nationwide celebrate National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW)! During this time, the New Jersey Poison Control Center and our community partners intensify efforts to encourage poison safety strategies be used in the home and workplace to reduce the risk of preventable poisoning injuries for residents of all ages. Most poisonings occur from dangers hiding in plain sight; the state’s poison center provides primary services against injury and deaths from poisoning both intentional and unintentional. In addition, NPPW highlights the center’s integral role and continued commitment to protecting the public’s health and safety. In recognition of this year’s observance, our center respectfully requests a proclamation be issued declaring March 15-21, 2020 as National Poison Prevention Week in your community. Attached is a guide for your office’s reference.
Poisoning exposure is the leading cause of unintentional injury death in New Jersey, outnumbering deaths by car crashes and firearms. Through the assessment, triage, management, and continued monitoring of poisoning patients, the poison center plays an instrumental role in the surveillance of exposures including the use, misuse, and abuse of medications, drugs and alcohol, environmental contaminants, common household products and chemicals, and bioterrorism agents. Our data is an important source in the development of a comprehensive surveillance system for early toxico and public health outbreak detection which aides in alerting local and state health and safety agencies to possible public health threats as they emerge.
The state’s poison control center provides many value-added public health services to the residents of New Jersey. Our involvement provides accessible and free healthcare to all, in addition to significantly reducing healthcare costs and dollar savings to both residents and local and state government. Our specialized medical professionals (doctors, nurses, and pharmacists) provide real-time poisoning exposure management and information, 24/7. Through telemedicine capabilities, our highly skilled staff become primary care providers to poisoned patients managed at home, as well as, toxicology consultants to healthcare practitioners, facilities, and institutions across the state. Our role eliminates thousands of unnecessary and expensive emergency department/room visits and reduces the length of stay for patients hospitalized for poisoning.
2019 was an exciting year for the New Jersey Poison Control Center. Our center answered over 51,000 calls for help from; members of the general public, medical professionals, first responders, school officials, healthcare facilities and institutions, government agencies, and other concerned residents across the state. At the request of the New Jersey Department of Health, our staff facilitated emergent health hotlines in response to imminent public health and safety concerns throughout the year. In September, the poison center had the opportunity to host Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) as he spoke to the public about the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. In October, our Executive and Medical Director, Dr. Diane Calello, was asked to provide expert testimony on the effects of lead in drinking water to the House Science Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, chaired by Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ). In addition, our center distributed approximately 152,000 poison safety materials; conducted over 130 community education programs, directly educating about 5,400 residents; attended nearly 270 community health fairs and events; and provided over 70 interviews to the press with nearly 250 media pickups.
In helping to promote community involvement, encourage your staff and constituents to learn more about the danger unintentional poisonings and drug overdoses pose to their health and the health of their loved ones. Residents can access information via our website and social media platforms: Facebook Twitter.