Poison Control Center 2015-08-05T12:27:05-06:00

Poison Control Center

Since 1973, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Pharmacy has operated the Arkansas Poison Control and Drug Information Center (Center) as a service to individuals and healthcare professionals of the state. The Center’s mission is to provide timely, useful clinical advice in potential poison exposures while enhancing a statewide system of population-based surveillance, vital records and statistics, with an ongoing plan to monitor, test, and implement processes to reach unprecedented levels of performance.

The Center serves the entire state with poisoning, infectious disease and public health emergency information. Our professional staff provides necessary triage via the nation’s toll-free poison and emergency telephone number (800-222-1222). This number serves all of the United States 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our center handled more than 37,000 emergency and public health information calls for Arkansans in 2008. The Center is a highly effective, efficient, successful public health service.

Center Information

  • In 2008, the Center staff answered a total of 37,991 calls. All 75 counties in the state were reached monthly based on volume.
  • Children under the age of 6 accounted for 13,311 exposure calls, representing 56% of all poison related exposures.
  • The Arkansas Poison Control Center saved an estimated $9.10, in unnecessary treatments costs, for every $1 spent on the Poison Control Center in 07-08.
  • The staff now comprises 7 pharmacists, 5 nurses, 1 physician, and 1 public health educator.
  • Since 1999, calls to the Center have increased by approximately 30%.
  • Substances involved most frequently in all human exposures were pharmaceuticals.
  • The most common exposures in children less than age 6 were over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and household cleaning products.
  • Approximately 350,000 pieces of poison prevention educational materials have been distributed within the state since 2007. The vast majority of these materials identify UAMS and the College of Pharmacy as the support for the program. These educational outreaches are focused on underserved populations, especially rural families and members of racial and ethnic minority groups.

Our History

On March 26, 1991, Act 796 formally created the Arkansas Poison Control and Drug Information Center and Act 797 provided appropriations for services and operating expenses for the preservation of the public peace, health, and safety. Initially the UAMS Emergency Department provided overnight coverage, but the Poison Control and Drug Information Center began taking all calls on June 1, 1999. The Center serves the entire state of Arkansas with a population base of approximately 2.8 million people, according to the most current estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Contact Us

To learn more about the Center, contact:
Howell Foster, Pharm.D.
Director, Arkansas Poison Control & Drug Information Center
(800) 376-4766 or fosterhowellr@uams.edu

To request educational materials, contact:
Charles Stutts
Health Educator
(501) 526-4387 or stuttscharlesh@uams.edu

To learn more about funding opportunities, contact:
Ann Turney
Senior Director of Development
(501) 686-6391 or annturney@uams.edu

Example of Patient Service

Drug-Induced Headache?

On a Saturday evening a mother called the Arkansas Poison Center regarding her 12 year old son’s severe headaches. She wanted to know if paroxetine (Paxil®) could cause migraine headaches. Her son had started paroxetine on Friday and later that evening complained of a headache. The headache had become so severe that the point the child wanted nothing more than a dark room and quiet. She added that he had a slight fever and refused to turn his head in either direction. These facts led our specialist to advise immediate medical attention. Paroxetine could cause headache, but the severity of symptoms warranted a physical examination. The specialist was very concerned about meningitis and expressed this to the mother. The mother asked if the child could wait to be seen in the morning at a pediatric clinic. The specialist advised immediate transportation to an emergency department.

The mother called the poison center that same evening, very grateful for the polite, but forceful recommendation. Examination determined that her son did not have meningitis, but instead had suffered a cerebral bleed. Delaying treatment could have made the situation much worse. Over the duration of many days the child regained full function. This mother credits the center with saving her child’s life.