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Ann Emerg Med. 2012 Jan;59(1):56-61. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2011.08.004. Epub 2011 Sep 19.

Using poison center data for national public health surveillance for chemical and poison exposure and associated illness.

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National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.


The National Poison Data System (NPDS) is a national near-real-time surveillance system that improves situational awareness for chemical and poison exposures, according to data from US poison centers. NPDS is the successor to the Toxic Exposure Surveillance System. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) use these data, which are owned and managed by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, to improve public health surveillance for chemical and poison exposures and associated illness, identify early markers of chemical events, and enhance situational awareness during outbreaks. Information recorded in this database is from self-reported calls from the public or health care professionals. In 2009, NPDS detected 22 events of public health significance and CDC used the system to monitor several multistate outbreaks. One of the limitations of the system is that exposures do not necessarily represent a poisoning. Incorporating NPDS data into the public health surveillance network and subsequently using NPDS to rapidly identify chemical and poison exposures exemplifies the importance of the poison centers and NPDS to public health surveillance. This integration provides the opportunity to improve the public health response to chemical and poison exposures, minimizes morbidity and mortality, and serves as an important step forward in surveillance technology and integration.

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