What does the National Poisons Information Centre do?
We provide information to doctors and healthcare professionals, to assist them in the management of acute poisoning. This service is available 24 hours per day and 365 days a year at 01 837 9964 or 01 809 2566.
We also have a specific Public Poisons Information Line (01 809 2166) aimed particularly at parents and those caring for young children. If you suspect accidental poisoning has occurred, we can rapidly advise if you need to seek urgent medical attention for your child. This service is available between 8am and 10pm, every day. Outside these times you should contact your GP service or a hospital emergency department.
Aside from dealing with emergency poisoning cases, the Poisons Information Centre also collects and analyses epidemiological data on acute poisoning. We produce an annual report each year and can provide more detailed data to regulatory authorities on request. Our annual reports are available here.
In addition, we act as the contracting body for TOXBASE ®, an on-line clinical toxicology database used by hospital emergency departments and intensive care units. We liaise with the database administrators in the UK to ensure that relevant Irish products are listed on TOXBASE®.
Who answers enquiries?
Enquiries are answered by Poisons Information Officers who are science graduates with a post-graduate qualification in Medical Toxicology. Our own Poisons Information Officers answer enquiries between 8am and 10pm, and calls outside these hours are automatically diverted to staff in the UK National Poisons Information Service. Complex or clinical questions can be referred to our Medical Director. The Poisons Information Officers are responsible for providing accurate and specialised information about acute and chronic toxicological issues, and to assist in the management of poisoned patients. They are not qualified to make clinical decisions regarding admission or discharge of a patient.
All staff members participate in continuing professional development by attending meetings with staff from the UK National Poisons Information Service, by conducting research and presenting findings at the Annual Congress of the European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists (EAPCCT), and by discussing unusual cases at staff meetings.
All records of Poison Centre calls are confidential. Telephone calls to the Poison Centre are recorded, and data are stored electronically, for quality assurance and training purposes. Enquiry data are shared with our colleagues in the UK National Poisons Information Service if required to ensure continuity of patient care.
Enquiries are recorded on paper and on a computer database (UKPID). This database provides general information for national statistics, for example age and sex of the patient, substances/products, the county where the call originated, outcome. Anonymised information may be provided to agencies that regulate consumer safety issues but confidential details such as callers names and telephone numbers are not released.
Manufacturers should provide the National Poisons Information Centre with information on their products to enable the NPIC to provide advice in a medical emergency. This role is assigned to the NPIC in the Chemicals (Amendment) Act 2010 and the Plant Protection Products and Biocides Regulations (Statutory Instruments 624 and 625 of 2001). The information provided to the NPIC should include the chemical composition of mixtures placed on the market.
Confidential product information provided to us by a manufacturer is stored securely and is only used to provide medical advice on the treatment of poisoning.