Grady Poison Control Answers 24/7 (2008)

Poison Control

The blue pills had been a boon for the Parkers' love life, but now they were cause for panic.

Their 2-year-old grandson had found and squirreled away a four-pack of the pills in the blanket he carried everywhere. Two pills had been torn from their wrapping, and the Parkers knew that they had used only one. Had the toddler eaten the other? Was he in danger?

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Grady Poison Control Answers 24/7

Their frantic call to the Poison Control Center was one of 117,058 handled last year. Eighty percent come from individuals like the Parkers or from schools and workplaces, says Emory pediatrician Robert Geller, the center’s long-time medical director. In most cases specialists are able to manage the situation by phone, avoiding the need for a medical visit. In the Parkers’ case, they were told that given their grandson’s age and weight, one pill would do no harm.

Clinicians account for the remaining 20% of calls to the center, which functions as a collaboration among Grady, Emory, and the state and federal government. An ER physician called from a hospital in south Georgia, for example, to ask if a patient who had suffered a skunk bite needed a rabies shot. Since skunks carry rabies and the skunk was unavailable for testing, the answer was yes.

In an ER farther to the north, a suicidal patient reported consuming unknown quantities of antifreeze and whiskey. The center outlined the specific lab work needed, determined that the patient did not require dialysis, and recommended a precise antidote.

Veterinarians also call. In fact, 9% of calls received focus on family pets.

There is never a dull day in the center, says Geller, and there is always immense satisfaction in providing Georgians high-quality, completely free, 24/7 care and guidance in potentially dangerous situations. Who you gonna call? 1-800-222-1222.