Every second counts: Landstuhl implements new poison control number

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

***image1***Timely treatment is of the utmost importance when someone ingests a poison. Landstuhl Regional Medical Center has made it so sufferers can get quicker medical advice.
Standard procedure for a poisoning was to call the LRMC Emergency Room, tell the staff of the problem, what was taken and wait as they searched for the right person to call. The procedure normally took 10 minutes, said Army Lt. Col. Jeffrey Lawson, chief of the LRMC Department of Emer-gency Medicine.
Now patients can dial one number and immediately be in contact with a toxicology expert at the National Capital Poison Center in Washington, D.C.
“I identified the need for more comprehensive poison control service and felt like we were not able to give people the full benefit of poison control services, include follow-up calls to patients and tracking of poison control trends,” said Colonel Lawson. “ I felt that if we were going to provide poison control, we needed to do it right. This system will provide thorough information in an efficient manner.”
Patients who call the center should have the name of the poison ingested as well as the weight of the victim in either pounds or kilograms.
“These toxicology experts are so experienced that they usually can tell the patient off the top of their heads whether or not the ingested substance is poisonous or harmless,” said Army Capt. Christopher Stake, Army nurse in the LRMC Department of Emergency Medicine.
“It’s all about quick access to information,” he said.
In addition to being more efficient for patients, the new system frees up emergency room staff to focus more on patient care as opposed to fielding questions regarding potential poisoning.
“On average, we fielded four calls per day, so that was 40 minutes right there,” said Captain Stake. “Those situations usually can be handled at home, so it was not the best way for both the patients and us to utilize our time.”
This newly devised system was the brainchild of Colonel Lawson, who said this has been years in the making.
“We’ve been working on this for almost four years,” he said. “When I became chief, straightening out poison control was one of my main agendas.”
Thus far, the system has gone off without a hitch. People in and around military installations all around Europe have but one number to dial.

Poison Control
To contact the Poison Control Center with questions about poisoning or for emergencies, call 00-800-444-88-444. The number is toll free from either a cell phone or home phone.
The Poison Control Center can also be reached by dialing 486-7070 and 06371-86-7070.
For details about poisoning, people can visit the poison control center’s Web site at http://www.poison.org.