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• Panhandle Regional Poison Control Center, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Amarillo;

• Southeast Texas Regional Poison Con- trol Center, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston;

• South Texas Regional Poison Control Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; and

• West Texas Regional Poison Control Center, University Medical Center and El Paso County Hospital District, El Paso.

Miguel Fernández, MD, medical di-

rector of the South Texas Poison Center, calls the poison control centers “one of the best investments out there,” adding that medical professionals provide treat- ment recommendations. He recalls an incident in which a

military hospital called his poison cen- ter when a young woman overdosed on methotrexate and wasn’t breathing. Dr. Fernández consulted on the call and helped the physicians resuscitate her. “I was able to relay my expert medi-

cal recommendations to the doctors in real time, and they brought her back,” he said. Poison control centers can also send

a poison control specialist to speak to physicians, public health officials, para- medics, nurses, and other health care professionals. Contact your local poison control educator to schedule a poison education program. Visit www.poison to access edu- cators’ contact information. Dr. Stanley says poison control cen-

ters are particularly valuable for physi- cians and patients in the state’s rural and medically underserved regions because physicians “can always call the poison control centers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round to get the ex- pertise of a board-certified medical toxicologist. The centers’ health profes- sionals can direct physicians to nearby facilities for patient treatment and can recommend an alternative if a particular antidote is unavailable.” The centers also save money. Citing

data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), Dr. Stanley says on average, 70 percent of

human exposure calls are treatable at home, avoiding far more costly hospital or doctor’s office visits. She says human exposure cases in-

volve “the possibility of poisoning.” For instance, human exposure could entail a child who ingested bleach or medication. By keeping Texans out of emergency departments, ambulances, clinics, and physicians’ offices, the West Texas Re- gional Poison Center in El Paso has saved the health care system $59 million since the center opened in 1995, accord- ing to its director, Leo Artalejo III, a doc- tor of pharmacy. Dr. Stanley says in 2011, Texas’ poi-

son centers processed 386,971 calls, handled 175,866 human exposure cases, and followed up on 175,037 human ex- posure cases. Poison control centers also reach out

to their communities, taking steps to re- duce the number of and severity of poi- son exposures. In addition to saving lives, AAPCC estimates poison control centers are three times as cost effective as child safety seats, bicycle helmets, and smoke detectors and are as cost effective as childhood immunizations. A 2007 New Jersey study published

in Journal of Toxicology and Environ- mental Health examined differences in length of hospital stay among poisoned patients who received remote assistance from a poison control center and those who did not. The study concluded that patients who received remote assistance from a poison control center stayed in the hospital three fewer days than those without poison control center assistance. The report illustrates cost savings

using 2002 New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services statistics that indicate average charges for a day in the hospital for a poisoned patient were $6,000. Assuming assistance from the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System decreased the average hospital stay by just one day, the annual savings would total more than $10 mil- lion statewide.

Pennywise, pound foolish Poison control centers receive state and federal funds. Like many other state- funded programs, Texas’ centers took a

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Covenant Medical Group (CMG) is affiliated with Covenant Health System in Lubbock, Texas. CMG is a multi-specialty group with more than 150 physicians across West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. We offer a competitive salary and excellent benefit package. CV should include salary requirements and can be forwarded to Covenant Medical Group, Attn: Kelly Fortney, 3420 22nd Place, Lubbock, TX 79410 or faxed to (806) 723-7476. For telephone inquiries, call (806) 725-7875.

E-mail: September 2012 TEXAS MEDICINE 29

Physician Practice Opportunities

We have exciting opportunities for board certified/board eligible physicians to join Covenant Medical Group. The ideal candidate should have experience and a Texas license.

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