Here are some frequently asked questions about the Indiana Poison Center.
What is a poison?
A poison is any substance that can/has given you an unwanted and/or unexpected reaction. That means, anything and everything can be potentially toxic, poisonous or harmful - the dosage makes it so. If in doubt, always call the Indiana Poison Center (IPC) ASAP.
What is the toll-free hotline number to the IPC?
Who should call the IPC?
Anyone and everyone! The IPC serves all 92 counties of Indiana and takes calls from healthcare professionals and the public. Since the 1.800.222.1222 number is a national number, you can call from anywhere in the U.S. and you'll be connected to the poison center nearest you.
How much does it cost to call the poison center?
There is no cost.
What are the IPC hours?
The call center is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
When should I call the IPC?
Call if you have a question or if you think that you or someone else has come in contact with something that can give or has given you an unexpected or unwanted reaction. Do not wait! The IPC can help you with questions regarding:
- Household and personal care products
- Chemicals in home, work or play environments
- Drugs (prescription, over-the-counter, herbal, illegal/recreational or veterinary medicines)
- Vitamins and supplements
- Plants (mushrooms, indoor and outdoor plants)
- Bites/stings (insect or animal)
- Environmentals (bioterrorism, pollution or gases)
- Food poisonings
- And much more!
Who will answer my call?
Calls are answered by specially trained nurses and pharmacists.
What happens when you call the IPC?
Your call will be answered by one of the specialists at the IPC. These experts are trained nurses and pharmacists who specialize in poisoning emergency treatment and poison prevention. The poison specialist will help you to decide if you need to go to a hospital. Most poisonings are not life threatening and can be handled at home with the help of a specialist, saving you time and money.
What information will I need to provide?
If your call is regarding you or someone else who's been exposed (or might have been exposed) to a potentially harmful substance, the IPC will ask if you know the following information:
- Age of the person involved
- Weight of the person involved
- Information about the product or potentially harmful substance
- Current health status of the person involved
- Health history of the person involved
- Time of exposure
- Your zip code
- First name of the person involved
- Phone number
Does the IPC take calls about pets?
The IPC is a human poison control center. For pet poisonings, please call the ASPCA animal poison center at 1.888.426.4435. There is a fee for the call.
If I call the IPC, will you report my call to another agency?
Your call is confidential and thus will not be reported to any organization (i.e. DCFS, immigration, etc.).
Is there more than one Poison Center in Indiana?
No. The IPC is the official poison center of the state. The center is accredited and certified as a Regional Poison Information Center by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).
Can I call the IPC if I just have a question, not a poison emergency?
Yes! The Indiana Poison Center can answer all your questions about potentially poisonous substances.
Who staffs the IPC emergency hotlines?
The 24 hour emergency hotlines are answered by highly trained Specialists in Poison Information (SPIs), registered nurses and pharmacists. In addition, a team of board certified toxicologists are on staff for additional back-up around the clock.
Why do you ask all those questions?
Some callers might feel that asking all these questions is wasting crucial time. But only a careful evaluation of all the information will allow the IPC staff to determine if a case presents a serious risk. No well-trained staff member will ever ask needless questions.
Once the information is gathered, the IPC staff member will calculate the amount of the exposure compared to body weight or look up the substance in the computer for more information. This information will determine the toxicity of the case. Using that information, the staff person will make treatment recommendations. Each full-time staff person handles about 5,000 poisoning cases each year. They know very quickly if your case involves only a mild exposure or if it is potentially life threatening.
Why are all the calls recorded?
Like 911 calls, all calls to the IPC are recorded. IPC calls, like medical records, are kept confidential. Information regarding the call is entered into a computer database. This provides general information for national statistics regarding age and sex of the victim, name of product, treatment and the zip code where the call originated. Callbacks are made to determine the outcome. Outcome information is provided to agencies that regulate consumer safety issues. No personal or confidential patient information, such as your name or phone number, is ever provided to a national database.
What if I don’t want to give my name and phone number?
Helping callers is the main concern of the IPC staff. There are no “bad parent” or “frequent caller” lists. Unless you tell the IPC staff that you have called before, they won’t know, as there are over 60,000 poison calls per year to the IPC. However, there are callers who refuse to provide basic information such as names and phone numbers to the IPC staff. The IPC staff will suggest to those callers that they contact their physician for assistance. For legal reasons, medical or poison information advice cannot be provided to anonymous callers.
Do doctors call the IPC?
The IPC serves as the state’s leading source of advanced toxicology training and consultation for healthcare professionals.
Is there a special number for people who do not speak English?
People who speak languages other than English should request a translator when they call the poison center. A three-way call will be set up between the caller, the specialist and a translator.