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Centers vital in emergencies Dr. Artalejo says many physicians don’t realize Texas’ poison control centers also are important in emergency prepared- ness and response. The centers work directly with local

Scientific Meeting


Saturday & Sunday November 3-4

Omni Fort Worth Hotel Fort Worth, Texas

 Earn CME credits on topics covering the latest developments in internal medicine and subspecialties

 Gain insight into recent medical advances

 View the top selections of clinical and research poster entries

 Analyze the newest evidence-based treatment and management of common medical problems facing internists

 Network with Texas chapter members

 Meet friends and former colleagues

Members and nonmembers are welcome to attend.

Visit to register.

For a brochure or registration information, visit or call the chapter business office at 512.370.1508.

Jointly sponsored by Scott ed by Scott & White.

emergency response planning commit- tees to support responders’ use of the centers during emergencies. When Hurricane Ike hit the state in

2008, employees at the Southeast Tex- as Regional Poison Control Center in Galveston had to evacuate. The center closed for 19 days. Dr. Artalejo says during that time,

the Texas Poison Control Network’s roll- over call system operated “seamlessly.” The West Texas Regional Poison Con- trol Center alone fielded 40 percent of calls coming from the Southeast Texas Regional Poison Control Center service region during the closure. Other centers throughout the state handled the re- maining volume of calls. “Any emergency communication sys-

tem needs to have redundancy because no single place in Texas is immune from being shut down by a natural disaster or public health emergency. Consolidating the network into one location could be catastrophic for Texas in the midst of a natural disaster or public health emer- gency,” Dr. Artalejo says. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike,

health professionals, emergency medi- cal technicians, and Texas residents most commonly called about carbon monox- ide exposure from generator use in un- ventilated areas, prescription drug ex- posure by children, exposure to rat and mice poison, and food poisoning due to improper food storage, Dr. Artalejo says. “The poison control centers were in- valuable during Hurricane Ike. Many people who needed care didn’t have ac- cess to hospitals or clinics. They were able to consult with a health profession- al by calling the toll-free number,” Dr. Artalejo said.

Threatening the network No one knows what the 2013 legislative session holds, but clearly Texas still faces budget challenges that could impact the poison control network. Dr. Stanley says lawmakers could pursue efforts to cut

32 TEXAS MEDICINE September 2012

funding further, including consolidating the centers. “CSEC is already at the tipping point

of being able to fund six centers in Texas. There really isn’t any fat in the system. If we experience more reductions, we could lose our highly qualified SPIs and the expertise of a robust regional net- work that serves the state,” she said. Dr. Fernández says additional funding

reductions will stress the state’s poison control system and could shift a hefty health care burden onto emergency departments. “The centers are running as efficiently

as they possibly can now. Additional cuts will threaten their survival,” he said. Dr. Stanley urges physicians to spread

a unified message of support for poison control centers among their elected of- ficials: “Texas’ poison control centers are pivotal tools in the medical framework, and to defund them is only going to cost the state more money.” Dr. Stanley also encourages her physician colleagues to take advantage of poison control ex- pertise that’s a simple phone call away: (800) 222-1222.

Revised Texas Cancer Plan available

Cancer is the leading cause of death among Texans younger than 85, accord- ing to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The Texas Cancer Registry predicts the disease will take a devastating toll on the state’s population this year alone with 110,000 estimated cancer diagnoses and 39,000 deaths. The Texas Cancer Plan, updated this

year from the 2005 version, serves as a statewide blueprint for cancer initia- tives. To download the 2012 Texas Can- cer Plan, visit images/uploads/tcp2012_web_v2a.pdf. The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) oversees the development of the plan and supports its implementation.

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