Leveraging poison centers’ capabilities for homeland security
Caliva, T. Michele
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Despite a nationwide presence, the daily provision of toxicologic emergency care and collaboration within the public health and emergency management arena, the nation’s poison centers are underutilized as a resource and as a partner for homeland security. The lack of utilization has clinical and monetary implications across the healthcare and public health enterprise. This thesis investigated the question do poison centers improve outcomes during public health emergencies? If so, how can they be better leveraged? This thesis research includes a case study analysis evaluating five functions that poison centers provide: disaster response, situational awareness around emerging threats, communication of these threats to the general public and to health care responders, clinical expertise and reducing the burden on health care facilities by preventing unnecessary emergency department visits, and reducing hospitalized patient’s length of stay. The findings of this research demonstrate that poison centers do positively impact outcomes during a disaster. They save lives, reduce health care costs, and provide a unique and valuable resource to the public and professional community. In order to better leverage these capabilities recommendations based on this research, collaboration should be increased with the Department of Homeland Security, Health Resources and Service Administration, and the Center for Disease Control, as well as with local and state agencies engaged in emergency response efforts.
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