Poison Centers Save More Than $1.8 Billion Every Year

October 22, 2012

The Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and America’s 56 other poison centers save Americans more than $1.8 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity, according to a report released last week by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). 

The AAPCC recently commissioned The Lewin Group to determine the value of the poison center system as a whole. The findings are detailed in the Final Report on the Value of the Poison Center System (The Lewin Group Inc., July 2012). In preparing the report, The Lewin Group reviewed existing literature regarding the impact of the poison center system on medical utilization and analyzed the value of the poison center network. The Lewin Group’s analysis included the four most commonly referenced savings metrics (savings due to avoided medical utilization, reduced hospital length of stay, in-person outreach, and reduced work-loss days).

“We believe that poison centers show a good return on the investment by saving countless lives and billions of dollars each year in avoidable E.R. visits, but America’s 57 Poison Centers saw a federal funding cut of 36 percent in 2011,” said Henry Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center. “Further reductions in funding will make it difficult for poison centers across the country to continue to provide life-saving services. This important report shows the value poison centers bring to the nation’s health care system.”

According to the Final Report on the Value of the Poison Center System, every dollar invested in the poison center system saves $13.39 in medical costs and lost productivity, for a total savings of more than $1.8 billion every year. The report also determined that the cost to fund poison centers is 43 cents per U.S. resident per year. As the following table indicates, the savings are shared by federal, state and local governments, as well as the private sector.

Funding Source Total Poison Center Funding in 2011 Estimated Medical Care Savings and Reduced Productivity Loss Per Year Medical Care Savings and Reduced Productivity Loss Per Dollar of Funding Per Year
Federal Government $17.1 million $662.8 million $38.74
State and Local Government $83.8 million $284.2 million $3.39
Private $35.1 million $873.4 million $24.86
Total $136 million $1.82 billion $13.39

“Our system of 57 poison control centers is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health programs in the nation,” said Rick Dart, M.D., Ph.D., past-president of the AAPCC. “Calls to poison centers keep the vast majority of callers out of the hospital and decrease the length of stays for patients who are admitted. Poison centers save lives, protect the public’s health, and save millions of taxpayer dollars. It’s vital that policymakers and the public understand the importance of funding this essential public health service.”

The Final Report on the Value of the Poison Center System is available at www.aapcc.org.

For more information, media representatives may contact Nationwide Children’s Hospital Media Relations to reach Central Ohio Poison Center Director Spiller.

About Nationwide Children's Hospital

Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report’s 2019-20 list of “Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric health care systems providing wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as adult patients with congenital disease. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of more than 13,000 providing state-of-the-art pediatric care during more than 1.5 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded freestanding pediatric research facilities. More information is available at NationwideChildrens.org.