Poisoning is a far more serious health problem in the U.S. than has generally been recognized. It is estimated that more than 4 million poisoning episodes occur annually, with approximately 300,000 cases leading to hospitalization. The field of poison prevention provides some of the most celebrated examples of successful public health interventions, yet surprisingly the current poison control system is little more than a loose network of poison control centers, poorly integrated into the larger spheres of public health. To increase their effectiveness, efforts to reduce poisoning need to be linked to a national agenda for public health promotion and injury prevention.
Forging a Poison Prevention and Control System recommends a future poison control system with a strong public health infrastructure, a national system of regional poison control centers, federal funding to support core poison control activities, and a national poison information system to track major poisoning epidemics and possible acts of bioterrorism. This framework provides a complete system that could offer the best poison prevention and patient care services to meet the needs of the nation in the 21st century.