Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I think someone has been poisoned?

If you think someone has been poisoned or have a question about a poison, you should contact the Texas Poison Center Network by calling 1-800-222-1222 for immediate assistance. If the person is unconscious, having difficulty breathing or having a seizure, you should dial 9-1-1.

What if I don't speak English?

For non-English speaking persons, the Texas Poison Center Network has a translation service available for assistance in more than 160 languages. Before speaking with one of our specialists in poison information, an automated message will ask caller to "Press 1" for English and "Press 2" for Spanish. For all other languages, the caller will be asked if he/she would like an interpreter at the beginning of call and may be placed on hold briefly to connect with an interpreter.

What if I am deaf or hard of hearing?

The Texas Poison Center Network complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may access the service by calling the following number for TTY: 1-800-222-1222.

What should I expect when I call the poison center?

You will never hear a busy signal when calling the Texas Poison Center Network because of our unique call distribution features. A call to 1-800-222-1222 automatically forwards to the next available poison center if your regional poison center lines are busy. The next available agent could be across the state; however, callers will see no difference in response time. This system is particularly useful should an entire poison center have to temporarily close. In such instances, the other poison centers may manage calls for the closed poison center. For example, when Hurricane Ike caused the Southeast Texas Poison Center in Galveston to close down in September 2008, the other poison centers were able to handle calls originating from that poison center's regional area.

What is done with the information I give the poison center? Is my call reported to other agencies?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations in 45CFR parts 160 and 164 as published in the Federal Register classifies poison centers as health care providers, authorized to share protected patient information with providers of direct patient care such as a physician.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has provided the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) with a grant of authority to conduct surveillance activities and to function as a public health authority. This allows covered entities to disclose protected health information on certain diseases, injuries, and conditions without the authorization of the individual for statistical and public health purposes. Examples include food poisoning cases, bioterrorist attack, or epidemics that may occur. The Texas Poison Center Network (TPCN) is a program performing public health functions for the State of Texas. As such we are exempt from HIPAA privacy regulations. For additional information please click on the link below.

HIPAA Privacy Rule and Public Health

Can I call 1-800-222-1222 for poison information, even though it is not an emergency?

Yes, our specialists are not only specially trained to handle poison emergencies but also to provide information that can help prevent a possible poisoning. For a list of complete services provided by the Texas Poison Center Network, please read the next question.

What services does the Texas Poison Center Network offer?
What is the difference between a poison and a toxin?

A 'poison' is anything that can harm someone if it is used in the wrong way, by the wrong person, or in the wrong amount. A 'poisoning' may occur by eating, drinking, smelling, touching, or getting a chemical in the eyes.

Poisons come in four forms:

A 'toxin' is something that is naturally occurring in a plant or venomous animal such as a snake, spider, or scorpion.

1 Bronstein AC, Spyker DA Cantilena LR, Green JL, Rumack BH, Giffin SL. 2008 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 26th Annual Report. 2009. Clinical Toxicology (2009) 47, 911-1084.

The information provided in this website is offered for general informational and educational purposes only; it is not offered as and does not constitute medical advice. While we try to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy or reliability with respect to the website or the information contained on the website.