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Poison Control Centers Can Prevent Hospitalizations

Some 43.3 calls can prevent one hospitalization, save $7,321

TUESDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Calls to poison control centers can prevent hospitalizations for poisoning in rural areas, with an estimated 43.3 calls preventing one hospitalization and saving a net $7,321, researchers report in the November issue of Pediatrics.

Eduard Zaloshnja, Ph.D., from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Calverton, Md., and colleagues examined whether calls to poison control centers reduced hospitalization rates in rural areas in 12 states. To do this, they used data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project and the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

The databases identified 3,327 hospital admissions due to acute poisoning. An average of 22.6 percent of all poisoning patients treated in emergency departments were hospitalized. In the 12 states studied, there were an average 8.13 calls to poison control centers per 1,000 inhabitants. The researchers found that hospitalization rates for poisoning fell by 0.19 percent with a 1 percent increase in calls to a poison control center. They estimate that one hospitalization could be prevented by 43.3 calls, saving a net cost of $7,321 with a return on investment of 5.9:1 for the health care system.

"Our results establish the existence of the hypothesized association between rural poison control center utilization rates and hospitalization rates among emergency department-treated poisoning patients," Zaloshnja and colleagues conclude.

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