Funding for poison control services has been completely eliminated from the Governor's budget. Poison control services cost California $5.9 million but save $70 million in health care costs and prevent 164,000 emergency room visits each year. Not only do consumers benefit from access to poison information by calling the toll-free number, but emergency room doctors and nurses and other health professionals use the poison control services as their primary resource for managing poison exposures.

Some believe that Californians will be able to use a national poison control hotline but this is not accurate -- there is no such service. This is a service Californians cannot afford to lose on the eve of additional cuts to health care. In this climate of economic uncertainty, the poison control center may be the only immediate and free expert medical service residents can access.

It is critical for Californians to understand that there is no national poison control hotline, said Stuart Heard, Executive Director of the California Poison Control System. The 'national' number, 1-800-222-1222, goes to local poison centers only -- and in our case there won't be one. Without the California Poison Control System, residents will be left with no alternative other than 911, emergency rooms or their private physician -- all of whom rely on our service to manage poison exposures. We are the primary resource for health professionals as well as consumers in treating poisonings.

By calling their local Assembly or Senate member, which can be found by visiting, Californians can demand that funding for poison control services be immediately reinstated.

Since its inception in 1997, the CPCS has managed over 3,000,000 cases. Clinical pharmacists, registered nurses, physicians and poison information providers answer the phones. A board-certified physician toxicologist is available at all times for specialized consultations from medical facilities seeking expert, current information in managing poison exposures.

In addition to providing access to poison experts, the CPCS is a central communication system infrastructure that can handle thousands of calls a day, providing real-time surveillance and identification of critical public health threats and rapid, reliable help during major public health events.