1-800 number touted during National Poison Prevention Week

SAN ANTONIO (March 17, 2008)—South Texas parents always have a number to call when their 3-year-old has sampled bleach or mistaken cold medicine for candy: 1-800-222-1222. This lifesaving resource line is answered by certified specialists in English and Spanish 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and all calls are confidential and non-judgmental.

“National Poison Prevention Week is March 16-22, and we want all of the 4.5 million people in South Texas to be aware of our own poison control resource in our region,” said toxicologist and emergency medicine physician Miguel C. Fernández, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and director of the South Texas Poison Center. “Just as we know to call 911, everyone should have this phone number tucked away in their memory for an occurrence that may or may not require a trip to an emergency room.”

The South Texas Poison Center, part of a statewide network of poison control centers, exists to protect public health. “Poison control is an effective form of injury prevention, especially for families, since more than half of the cases involve children and most of those cases involve little ones under the age of 6,” Dr. Fernández said. “Our specialized telehealth services are offered 24/7/365, and are bilingual, non-judgmental, confidential, TTY-accessible, HIPAA-compliant and entirely toll-free.”

PAGE 2—South Texas Poison Center

TTYs (teletypewriters) allow individuals to type text in real time instead of speaking. HIPAA is short for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
For every dollar spent on poison control, at least $7 is saved in public health care costs due to instant intervention and effective use of resources, often by preventing unnecessary, stressful and costly visits to the ER or other health care facilities, Dr. Fernández noted. The service is also a valuable resource for health care professionals to help them evaluate and manage poisoning cases in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.
The South Texas Poison Center decreases health care disparities as it reaches diverse populations, and is also active in toxicology research and professional education, he said.

State Sens. Leticia Van De Putte and Judith Zaffirini sponsored legislation that led to the formation of the South Texas Poison Center and state support for all six centers of the Texas Poison Center Network. The state centers are in part funded through the State Commission on Emergency Communications (http://www.911.state.tx.us/browse.php/poison) through contracts under the Texas Department of State Health Services (http://www.poisoncontrol.org/about.html).
The South Texas Poison Center also is supported by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration through legislation known as the Poison Control Center Enhancement and Awareness Act. The center is part of the Division of Emergency Medicine within the Department of Surgery in the UT Health Science Center School of Medicine. It is physically located in the Bexar County Forensic Science Center on the Health Science Center Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Campus under a symbiotic agreement with the Bexar County Commissioners Court. All of these parties play a significant role in continuing the work of poison control for the state.


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $576 million and 5,000 faculty and staff, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $15.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to seven campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 23,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and allied health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit www.uthscsa.edu.

Share This Article!