UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Do Poison Centers Reduce Length of Stay and Hospital Charges?

Keywords: poison center, length of stay, hospital, charges (PubMed Search)

Posted: 3/11/2014 by Bryan Hayes, PharmD (Emailed: 3/13/2014) (Updated: 3/13/2014)
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In a collaborative effort between the Illinois Poison Center and the Illinois Hospital Association, a new study sought to determine a poison center's effect on hospital length of stay (LOS) and hospital charges.

While the methodology was understandably complex, the authors compared ~5,000 toxicology inpatients with poison center assistance to 5,000 toxicology inpatients without poison center assistance.

After adjusting for confounders, the LOS among patients with posion center assistance was 0.58 days shorter compared to that of patients without poison center assistance (CI 95%: -0.66, -0.51, p<0.001). Though hospital charges for poison center-assisted patients in the lower quintiles were significantly higher than patients without poison center-assistance (+$953; p<0.001), they were substantially lower in the most costly quintile of patients (-$4852; p<0.001).

Poison center assistance was associated with lower total charges only among the most expensive to treat. However, this outlier group is very important when discussing medical costs.


Friedman LS, et al. The association between U.S. Poison Center assistance and length of stay and hospital charges. Clin Toxicol 2014;52:198-206. [PMID 24580060]

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