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Poisons – Where You Can Go to Seek Help

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Many Western Australians don’t know where to go to seek help if they suspect they or a family member may have been exposed to a potentially poisonous substance.

The Western Australian Poisons Information Centre, located at Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital, is a specialized unit providing expert advice via a 24-hour telephone line about the management of poisonings and suspected poisonings across Australia.

It should be your first port of call if you suspect that you or a family member or friend has been exposed to a potentially poisonous agent and is staffed by highly trained specialists with backgrounds in pharmacy, bio-medical science and nursing.

Operators will provide you with diagnostic and treatment advice over the phone, with the centre also providing preventative education, drug information and assistance in the identification of toxic agents.

The Impact of Poisons in Westerns Australia

Poisons occur when people unintentionally drink, eat, breathe, inject, or touch enough of a hazardous substance (poison) to cause illness or death1. In Western Australia there were 557 deaths due to accidental poisoning between 2007 and 2011 with the majority between the ages of 25 and 442. Poisonings or suspected poisonings were responsible for 5,758 hospital admissions during this same period with the highest incidences recorded in April, November and January. For more information and statistics regarding poisoning visit the poisons fact sheet.

Poisons Information

The Poisons Information line 13 11 26 operates 24 hours a day, is strictly confidential and provides advice Australia wide. Non English speakers are urged to telephone 13 14 50 and an interpreter will telephone the poisons centre for you.

In most cases problems can be managed at home without the need to visit a hospital emergency department however callers are reminded that if the victim collapses or stops breathing to telephone 000 for an ambulance immediately.

Poisons Research

The Head of the Department of WA Poisons Centre and UWA Adjunct Research Fellow, Anne Maree Lynch, continues her great work in the field with the release of recent research findings into the potentially fatal impact of dosing errors of Methotrexate, commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease. Click here to read the full article.

 

  1. World Health Organisation. (2014). Poisoning. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/environmental_health_emergencies/poisoning/en/
  2. Department of Health, Western Australia. (2015). Health condition overview. External causes of mortality deaths – Western Australia State.