IPSIndian Journal of Pharmacology
Home  IPS  Feedback Subscribe Top cited articles Login 
Users Online : 12182 
Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size
Navigate Here
Resource Links
 »  Similar in PUBMED
 »  Search Pubmed for
 »  Search in Google Scholar for
 »Related articles
 »  Article in PDF (625 KB)
 »  Citation Manager
 »  Access Statistics
 »  Reader Comments
 »  Email Alert *
 »  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

In This Article
 »  Abstract
 » Introduction
 » Subjects and Methods
 » Results
 » Discussion
 » Conclusions
 » Acknowledgment
 »  References
 »  Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded160    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 1    

Recommend this journal


 Table of Contents    
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 45  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 496-501

Evaluation of poison information services provided by a new poison information center

1 Department of Pharmacy Practice, JSS College of Pharmacy, JSS University, Mysore, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Medicine, JSS Medical College and Hospital, JSS University, Mysore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication6-Sep-2013

Correspondence Address:
Shobha Churi
Department of Pharmacy Practice, JSS College of Pharmacy, JSS University, Mysore, Karnataka
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7613.117781

Rights and Permissions

 » Abstract 

Aim: The aim of this study is to assess the nature and quality of services provided by poison information center established at a tertiary-care teaching hospital, Mysore.
Settings and Design: This was a prospective observational study.
Materials and Methods: The poison information center was officially established in September 2010 and began its functioning thereafter. The center is equipped with required resources and facility (e.g., text books, Poisindex, Drugdex, toll free telephone service, internet and online services) to provide poison information services. The poison information services provided by the center were recorded in documentation forms. The documentation form consists of numerous sections to collect information on: (a) Type of population (children, adult, elderly or pregnant) (b) poisoning agents (c) route of exposure (d) type of poisoning (intentional, accidental or environmental) (e) demographic details of patient (age, gender and bodyweight) (f) enquirer details (background, place of call and mode of request) (g) category and purpose of query and (h) details of provided service (information provided, mode of provision, time taken to provide information and references consulted). The nature and quality of poison information services provided was assessed using a quality assessment checklist developed in accordance with DSE/World Health Organization guidelines.
Statistical Analysis: Chi-Square test (χ2 ).
Results: A total of 419 queries were received by the center. A majority (n = 333; 79.5%) of the queries were asked by the doctors to provide optimal care (n = 400; 95.5%). Most of the queries were received during ward rounds (n = 201; 48.0%), followed by direct access (n = 147; 35.1%). The poison information services were predominantly provided through verbal communication (n = 352; 84.0%). Upon receipt of queries, the required service was provided immediately (n = 103; 24.6%) or within 10-20 min (n = 296; 70.6%). The queries were mainly related to intentional poisoning (n = 258; 64.5%), followed by accidental poisoning (n = 142; 35.5%). The most common poisoning agents were medicines (n = 124; 31.0%). The service provided was graded as "Excellent" for the majority of queries (n = 360; 86%; P < 0.001), followed by "Very Good" (n = 50; 12%) and "Good" (n = 9; 2%).
Conclusion: The poison information center provided requested services in a skillful, efficient and evidence-based manner to meet the needs of the requestor. The enquiries and information provided is documented in a clear and systematic manner.

Keywords: Evaluation, poison information center, poison information services, quality

How to cite this article:
Churi S, Abraham L, Ramesh M, Narahari M G. Evaluation of poison information services provided by a new poison information center. Indian J Pharmacol 2013;45:496-501

How to cite this URL:
Churi S, Abraham L, Ramesh M, Narahari M G. Evaluation of poison information services provided by a new poison information center. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2023 Sep 26];45:496-501. Available from: https://www.ijp-online.com/text.asp?2013/45/5/496/117781

 » Introduction Top

Every year, approximately half a million people die world-wide due to poisoning. [1],[2],[3] According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report, [4] pesticide poisoning is the most common poisoning in developing countries and the incidence rate has doubled in the past 10 years (more than 50% of the total cases world-wide). Although the trends of poisoning are different across India due to different demographic, socio-economical and risk factors, [3] the most common poisoning agents in India are also pesticides, followed by sedatives, drugs, chemicals, alcohols, plant toxins and household cleansing agents. [5],[6] It is noteworthy that approximately nine million synthetic and natural chemicals are available in India. [2] Unfortunately, majority of them are widely distributed across India and easily available for purchase due to lack of stringent regulatory laws, thereby influencing the incidence of poisoning. [1],[3],[7],[8],[9] Recognizing the problem of poisoning and the need for awareness and specialized facilities to deal with it, poison information centers have been established in some parts of India. [1],[2],[3]

A poison information center is a specialized unit that advises on or assists with, the prevention, diagnosis and management of poisoning. [10],[11],[12] For the management of poisoning cases, poison information centers are a ready source of help as they can provide authentic information and guidelines for first aid and treatment of emergencies related to toxic exposures. [10],[11] A global study undertaken during the period 1984-1986 indicated that while most of the developed countries had well-established facilities for poison control, this was rarely the case in developing countries. [11] Ideally, the poison information centers should provide information in a timely and excellent manner. [12] It has been found that fulfilling these goals improves the quality of patient care and help reduce the poisoning incidences. [13],[14] The services provided by a poison information center not only help reduce the morbidity and mortality caused by poisoning, but also help reduce future accidental poisoning. [8],[12],[13],[15] Poison information services are highly cost-effective as timely information can reduce the health-care expenditures by reducing unnecessary admissions and/or preventing prolonged hospitalization. [8],[12],[13],[16]

Regional poison information center help understand local risk factors, provide critical information in a more efficient manner and create better awareness using a local language. [8],[14],[15],[16] We recently established a new poison information center at a tertiary-care teaching hospital, Mysore. This center has been receiving queries continuously and has been providing vital information to both general public and medical professionals. In our previous studies, [7],[9],[17] we established patterns of poisoning in Mysore region, appropriate scales to prospectively predict the severity of poisoning and the relationship between the predicted severity and actual clinical outcome. As it is important to maintain high quality services, we assessed the nature and quality of services provided by the new poison information center in the current study. The results of the current study may help to improve the quality of services provided by our center.

 » Subjects and Methods Top

Study Site

A prospective observational study was conducted over a period of 14 months (January 2011 to February 2012) at the poison information center established at Department of Clinical Pharmacy, JSS College of Pharmacy, located at the tertiary care teaching hospital (JSS Hospital, Mysore).

Study Criteria

About 40 patients were admitted per month, due to intentional or accidental poisoning. All queries pertaining to poisoning in either gender, irrespective of age and the poison information services provided during the 14-month period were included in the study. Queries related to poisoning in animals were excluded from the study.

Handling of a Poison Information Query

The queries pertaining to poisoning in humans received by the center were handled according to a modified systematic approach. [8],[14],[15],[18] Briefly, the query was received by a clinical pharmacist and requested information was provided to the enquirer by adopting a systematic approach as described in the following steps:

Step 1

Receive and collect enquirer demographics: Poison-related queries were received either over a telephonic conversation or directly from an enquirer at the center. The complete details were collected and his/her identification was established. Any additional information relevant to the query that would help provide a good response was also collected.

Step 2

Collect background information: The basic information related to poisoning and victim such as age and/or weight of victim, substance/product name, route of contact (oral, inhalation, dermal, ocular), quantity and/or strength involved, time since exposure, patient's condition, treatment received and health status of the patient including medication history, allergies, relevant pre-existing conditions was collected.

Step 3

Assessment of the condition: The urgency of the situation was then assessed and categorized as emergency, serious and not serious. The likelihood of toxicity associated with the exposed toxins was assessed based on the nature of substance, type of exposure and quantity consumed.

Step 4

Develop and conduct a search strategy. In this step, a list of appropriate resources was prepared and prioritized based on the probability of locating the desired information. Readily accessible resources at the center are databases such as Poisindex (Thomson Reuters Micromedex ® 1.0 and Micromedex ® 2.0), Hypertox, Intox and poison management protocols.

Step 5

Evaluate and provide the information. Comprehensive information related to options was collected. A suitable response was prepared after critically evaluating the collected information. The response or feedback was provided in the form of verbal conversation or written document or printed materials or through fax or e-mail as required. The suggested line of management was according to the current evidence available and was patient specific.

Step 6

Conduct follow-up: Follow-up of the case is vital to assess the outcome and to know if the management of poisoning requires further information. Personal visits were allowed when the victim was admitted to the hospital. In other cases, the follow-up was made through telephonic enquiry and e-mail.

Step 7

Documentation: The details related to enquirer, query and the response were documented in an appropriate format. A proper documentation not only helps while dealing with similar future queries, but is also needed to justify the professional value and for protective measure against legal liability.

Step 8

Maintain confidentiality: All issues related to query was kept confidential due to socio-legal reasons. The details of enquirer were not disclosed to family members, health-care professionals and to other unknown people.

Assessment of Nature and Extent of Poison Information Services

The nature of services was assessed by analyzing the details collected on background information, type of population, poisoning and poisoning agent. Received queries were classified as given in [Table 1] and corresponding abundance was determined by calculating the percentage value (number of queries of particular category/total number of queries ×100).
Table 1: Classification of poison information queries based on background information and relative abundance

Click here to view

Development of Quality Assessment Checklist

A quality assessment checklist [Annexure I] [Additional file 1] was prepared in accordance with DSE/WHO seminar guidelines. [14],[15],[18] The quality of the services provided by the center was assessed by conducting a survey using a quality assessment checklist. This checklist consisted of 10 questions with three options/choices (Yes/No/Not Applicable [NA]) for each question. The option "Yes" and "NA" represent 1 point; while "No" represent 0 point. The grading was performed on the basis of scores obtained as follows: Excellent (score = 10), Very good (score = 8-9), Good (score = 5-7), Poor (score = 3-4) and Unacceptable (score = 1-2). The questionnaire was prepared by considering the overall details collected on different aspects including: (a) Details of enquirer, patient and poisonous substance, (b) urgency of the situation, (c) resources, (d) analysis, (e) appropriateness of the information and (f) time taken to provide information. Documentation in an appropriate format and follow-up details were also verified to assess the quality of services.

Constitution of Quality Assessment Panel and Development of Guidelines to Assess the Quality of Poison Information Service

A quality assessment panel was constituted to assess the quality of poison information services. The panel included 2 casualty medical officers (JSS Hospital, Mysore), 1 physician (JSS Medical College and Hospital, Mysore), 1 paediatrician (JSS Medical College and Hospital, Mysore) and 1 academic clinical pharmacist (JSS College of Pharmacy, Mysore). The panel then formulated standard guidelines to assess the quality of poison information services provided by the centre. On monthly basis, randomly selected two-third of the queries answered were assessed for the quality of service provided using the quality assessment panel.

Assessment of the Quality of Poison Information Services

The quality of services was assessed by the constituted panel using the quality assessment checklist and adopting the quality assessment guidelines. Briefly, the quality assessment panel, with a quorum of at least three members, assembled in the 1 st week of every month to evaluate the quality of services provided in the previous month. Two-third of the answered queries were randomly selected for the assessment of quality of services. The quality of services was assessed on the basis of information collected on: (a) Sufficient information related to enquirer, patient and poisonous substance (b) appropriateness of urgency of situation (proper assessment of urgency of the situation) (c) appropriateness of references/resources used to retrieve the information (d) quality of gathered information (critical assessment of gathered information prior to communication) (e) satisfaction of enquirer's need (f) promptness of service (provision of service within specified duration) (g) quality of documentation of provided service (proper documentation) and (h) promptness in follow-up (if required). On the basis of fulfilment of these features, the panel graded each of the poison information queries reviewed in the quality assessment checklist by consensus and approval by the members.

Statistical Analysis

The statistical significance of the services was analyzed using percentage value and Chi-Square statistical test using the IBM ® statistical package for the social sciences version 20.0. The P value was set at 0.001 for computing the significance of services provided.

 » Results Top

The results of poisoning related queries are mentioned in [Table 1] and [Table 2]. During the study period (January 2011 to February 2012), the poison information center received 419 queries. Among them, a majority (n = 400; 95.5%; P < 0.001) of queries were related to optimal patient care, followed by knowledge update (n = 19; 4.5%). Queries predominantly came from doctors (n = 333; 79.5%; P < 0.001), followed by other health-care professionals (n = 60; 14.3%) and the general public (n = 26; 6.2%). The origin of queries was in the following order: Healthcare facility (n = 375; 89.5%; P < 0.001) followed by workplace of the enquirers (n = 26; 6.2%), followed by their residence (n = 18; 4.3%). Most of the queries were received during ward rounds (n = 201; 48.0%), followed by direct queries (n = 147; 35.1%). Rest of the queries was received through telephone or e-mail. Notably, 241 queries (57.5%; P < 0.001) were related to the management of the poisoning. Mode of communication involved in providing service was chiefly verbal (n = 352; 84.0%; P < 0.001). In some instances, the information was provided in the form of printed materials, written information and through e-mail. An effort was made to provide the required information in a timely and efficient manner. For instance, 296 (70.6%) queries were answered within 10-20 min. Importantly 103 (24.6%) queries were answered immediately depending upon the urgency, importance and availability of resources. However, relatively longer time taken for some queries was attributed to the time consumed for extensive literature search in complicated cases.
Table 2: Classification of poison information queries according to poisoning agents and relative abundance

Click here to view

The center mainly used Poisindex (n = 286; 68.2%) as a key resource to obtain information on management of poisoning. Poisindex is the largest and most complete source for quickly identifying, managing and treating toxicological exposures. The database of brand names was also compiled by the center and used for the identification of certain poisoning agents. Other resources such as published articles and websites were also used to gather required information. Typically, multiple resources were used to gather and provide comprehensive information.

Among the queries related to optimal patient care (n = 400), significant (P < 0.001) queries (258; 64.5%) were due to intentional poisoning, followed by accidental poisoning (n = 142; 35.5%). The most commonly detected poisons were medicines (n = 124; 31.0%), followed by household products (n = 114; 27.2%) and pesticides (n = 105; 26.2%) [Table 2]. However, there was no statistically significant difference between all the three poisoning agents (P > 0.001). The quality of poison information services was assessed using a quality assessment checklist (see Annexure I) developed in accordance with the DSE/WHO seminar guidelines. The service provided was graded as "Excellent" for a majority of queries (n = 360; 86%; P < 0.001), followed by "Very Good" (n = 50; 12%) and "Good" (n = 9; 2%). Further, evaluation showed that the poison information service was provided in a timely and excellent manner [Table 1].

 » Discussion Top

A new poison information center was established at JSS Hospital, Mysore, with an aim to provide critical information during the management of poisoning incidences. With the help of timely and vital information, optimal care can be provided during the crisis. As a result, morbidity and mortality associated with poisoning can be reduced. However, performance and usefulness of poison or drug information center depends on the ability to respond and gather information on the enquiry and requestor in an efficient manner. It also depends on the ability to locate, analyze and deliver the information required in a skillful, efficient and evidence-based manner to meet the needs of the requestor and document enquiries and information given in a clear and systematic manner. [8],[12],[13],[14],[15],[17],[19] Hence, we evaluated the quality of services provided by the center.

The results of the current study indicated that services were provided in a timely and excellent manner. Importantly, the services provided helped the doctors to provide optimal patient care and update their knowledge. The new poison information center organizes educational programs in and around the Mysore district to create awareness about poisoning substances and appropriate preventive measures. The results of current and previous [7],[8],[9],[17] studies indicate that new poison information center is providing critical services as envisaged for the center.

The findings of this study were in agreement with study conducted by Sam et al.[14] For instance, Sam et al. similarly evaluated the quality of poison information services and reported that service was similarly provided in a timely and excellent manner. [14] Further, a majority of queries in their study were also received during ward rounds. Therefore, the results of the current and Sam et al. studies point to the importance of poison information service during routine and follow-up ward rounds. Importantly, the efficiency of poison information center reported in the current study was comparable to those of a well-established poison information center. [15] For example, Asiri et al. [15] evaluated the quality of services provided at a college-based center located at King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, were it was found that the majority of queries were replied to within 10-20 min of the enquiry. Further, the key resources used by our poison information center (e.g., Poisindex, Hypertox, Intox and poison management protocols) to provide services were also used by well-established poison information centers in other countries. [15],[16] This indicates that poison information center evaluated in the current study is well-equipped to provide the requisite information.

 » Conclusions Top

The poison information center at JSS Hospital, Mysore, has been continuously receiving poison related queries from both health care professionals and the general public. The center has been recording queries and related information in a clear and systematic manner. The service has been provided in a skillful, efficient and evidence-based manner. The quality of service provided to a majority of queries was graded as "Excellent". The center has also been involved creating awareness about its services in rural and urban areas. The awareness program includes educating people on safe storage and use of poisons and) importance of first-aid techniques in poisoning. Further studies are also underway to evaluate the influence of awareness and educational intervention programs on the incidence of poisoning and optimal patient care.

 » Acknowledgment Top

Authors are thankful to the JSS University, Principal, JSS College of Pharmacy, Head, Department of Pharmacy Practice, JSS College of Pharmacy, Medical superintendent, JSS Medical College Hospital for their support during the study. The authors are also indebted to quality assessment panel members.

 » References Top

1.Churi S, Harsha CS, Ramesh M. Patterns of poison information queries received by a newly established south Indian poison information center. Asian J Pharm Clin Res 2012;5:79-82.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Harish D, Chavali K, Singh A, Kumar A. Recent advances in the management of poisoning cases. J Indian Acad Forensic Med 2011;33:74-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Sharma BR, Harish D, Sharma V, Vij K. Poisoning in northern India: Changing trends, causes and prevention thereof. Med Sci Law 2002;42:251-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.WHO Guidelines for poison control, 2011. Available from: http://www.who.int/ipcs/publications/training/poisons/guidelines_poisoncontrol/en/index1.html. [Cited on 2011 Jan 29].  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Dash S, Mohanty M, Mohanty S. Socio-demographic profile of poisoning cases. J Indian Acad Forensic Med 2005;27:133-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Singh D, Jit I, Tyagi S. Changing trends in acute poisoning in Chandigarh zone: A 25-year autopsy experience from a tertiary care hospital in northern India. Am J Forensic Med Pathol 1999;20:203-10.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Churi S, Bhakta K, Madhan R. Organophosphate poisoning: Prediction of severity and outcome by Glasgow Coma Scale, poisoning severity score, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score, and Simplified Acute Physiology Score II. J Emerg Nurs 2012;38:493-5.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Churi S, Madhan R, Parthasarathi G. Poison information center - An overview of its significance, organization and functioning. Indian J Pharm Pract 2011;4:14-20.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Churi S, Ramesh M, Bhakta K, Chris J. Prospective assessment of patterns, severity and clinical outcome of Indian poisoning incidents. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2012;60:859-64.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Setting up of poison information center, 2011. Available from: http://www.gujhealth.gov.in/pdf/poison-information-centre.pdf. [Cited on 2011 Apr 26].  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Poison Centres-World Health Organization, 2011. Available from: http://www.who.int/ipcs/poisons/centre/en/index.html. [Cited on 2011 Apr 30].  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Lall SB, Peshin SS. Role and functions of Poisons Information Centre. Indian J Pediatr 1997;64:443-9.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Laborde A. New roles for poison control centres in the developing countries. Toxicology 2004;198:273-7.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Sam KG, Rajan MS, Saghir Z, Kumar P, Rao P. Evaluation of poison information services of a clinical pharmacy department in a south Indian tertiary care hospital. J Clin Diagn Res 2009;3:1313-8.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Asiri YA, Al-Arifi MN, Al-Sultan MS, Gubara OA. Evaluation of drug and poison information center in Saudi Arabia during the period 2000-2002. Saudi Med J 2007;28:617-9.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Ponampalam R. Cost benefits of the Drug and Poison Information Centre in preventing unnecessary hospitalisation: The Singapore experience. Hong Kong J Emerg Med 2010;17:45-53.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Jesslin J, Adepu R, Churi S. Assessment of prevalence and mortality incidences due to poisoning in a South Indian tertiary care teaching hospital. Indian J Pharm Sci 2010;72:587-91.  Back to cited text no. 17
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
18.Barlett G, Miller J, Baler L. Evaluating the quality and effectiveness of a drug information center, Berlin. DSE/WHO Seminar on Drug Information Centers, 1997.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Abdi SA, Churi S, Ravi Kumar YS. Study of drug utilization pattern of antihyperglycemic agents in a South Indian tertiary care teaching hospital. Indian J Pharmacol 2012;44:210-4.  Back to cited text no. 19
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  


  [Table 1], [Table 2]

This article has been cited by
1 A survey on student pharmacists' knowledge, attitude and perceptions about drug and poison information elective rotation in Saudi Arabia
Otilia J F Banji, Shamna Machanchery, David Banji, Ahmed A Albarraq, Hafiz A Makeen
Pharmacy Education. 2020; : 287
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Print this article  Email this article


Site Map | Home | Contact Us | Feedback | Copyright and Disclaimer | Privacy Notice
Online since 20th July '04
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow