FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked questions about the Missouri Poison Center – a statewide poison center accredited by the American Association of Poison Control Centers which provides treatment advice, education, and prevention services to Missourians since 1974.

The United States has 55 poison centers each serving a specific region. The Missouri Poison Center at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital is the single accredited poison center designated to serve the state of Missouri.

When you call the Missouri Poison Center, 1-800-222-1222, you will be speaking directly to one of our registered nurses or pharmacists who are certified as specialists in poison information. Our specialists are exceptionally trained to provide treatment advice for acute and chronic poisonings and are supported by a board-certified MD toxicologist who is available for consultations 24 hours a day. All calls are confidential.
All calls are free and confidential.
People call the MPC for a variety of reasons. We help with calls about:

  • Medicines and drugs (i.e. prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, supplements, illegal/recreational, or veterinary)
  • Household and personal care products
  • Chemicals and pesticides (at home and work)
  • Plants (i.e. mushrooms, indoor and outdoor plants)
  • Bites and stings (i.e. insects, snakes)
  • Gases and fumes
  • Food poisoning
  • Questions about adverse or unexpected reactions to medicines or products
Yes, throughout our nation’s network of 55 poison centers, we each carry our own region’s name, but sometimes we are simply referred to as ‘Poison Control’ or ‘Poison Hotline’. All 55 poison centers use the same toll-free phone number, the Poison Help line, 1-800-222-1222 to give emergency assistance for poisonings.
In 2003, federal legislation provided funding for a single toll free hotline for poison emergencies. This number serves as nationwide access for poison help sometimes confusing our name as ‘national poison control’.
The majority of these cases are handled at home which is faster and a lot less expensive than a visit to the emergency room. If a patient is sent to the hospital, the poison center specialist will speak with the doctors and nurses to develop a treatment plan.
In addition to serving as a valuable tool for families, the MPC also receives calls from doctors, nurses, paramedics, and pharmacists. The poison center works with the statewide 911 system allowing poison treatment information to be given directly to first responders who are with the patient.
The Missouri Poison Center is not-for-profit and is funded by a state appropriation, the Missouri Hospital Association, a federally funded grant, industry contracts, private contributions, and SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.
The Missouri Poison Center is committed to educating the public and health care providers.  Public education is available through:

  • Educational materials
  • Programs for children and adults
  • Displays at health fairs and events
  • Trending Topics Alerts

Education for health care providers is available through:

  • Classes
  • In-services
  • Quarterly publication, Poison Alerts newsletter

Contact our education office at 1-866-612-5719 to request a program.

What to Expect When You Call

If you need to call the Missouri Poison Center (MPC) but have never called before, you may be wondering how we handle the calls we receive.

You should call the poison center as soon as you suspect a poisoning or overdose. Do not wait for symptoms.
Immediately call 1-800-222-1222. Do not make a person vomit if you suspect he or she has swallowed something harmful. Tell the person to rinse out his or her mouth if something was swallowed or rinse out his or her eye if something was splashed in the eye. You can also review our First Aid for Poisoning.
You will speak with a certified specialist in poison information. Our specialists are registered nurses and pharmacists who are specially trained in poisons and are backed up 24/7 by a board-certified physician toxicologist.
  • Patient’s name – this is done to create a confidential medical record of the case.
  • Telephone number of you, the caller – this is done to allow the poison center to follow up by telephone to make sure the patient is okay or if the line gets disconnected, we need to be able to call back.
  • Age and weight of patient – many substances and poisons affect children differently than adults. This information helps so we can do calculations and evaluate your specific exposure.
  • Name of the substance or product – having the exact brand name and/or label information is important. We may ask you to read parts of the label and ingredient information to help us determine the product involved.
  • Amount of the substance missing – to help determine the risks.
  • Route of the exposure: Was the product swallowed?  Inhaled?  Did it get on the skin or in the eyes?
  • Time of the exposure.
  • Current symptoms the patient is experiencing.
  • Patient’s current medication and medical history – if any.
Your call is a private phone call between you and the specialist handling your case. Your specialist will let you know if she or he needs to speak with a doctor. A medical record is started with your call. All information is confidential medical information and your information is always private.
Every call is different, and each call is based on the particular patient and substance involved. You can trust that we will provide you with excellent treatment advice within minutes of your call.
No. All calls to the poison center are free.
You can trust that we will help you, anytime, day or night. The Poison Help line is always open, 1-800-222-1222.