New poison control line takes effect July 1

Toll-free line will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Manitobans will have access to a new toll-free poison information service, effective July 1.

The enhanced Manitoba Poison Centre, 1-855-7POISON (1-855-776-4766), will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will provide specialized information and treatment recommendations related to chemical, biological, pharmaceutical and environmental poisoning and exposure.

"This new service will provide bilingual, Manitoba-wide poison information to adults, parents of children, families, and caregivers who have questions or concerns about potential poisoning," said Arlene Wilgosh, President and CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. "This access to specialists will be free to call from anywhere in Manitoba, and will be available around the clock, 365 days a year."

The service is staffed by a multidisciplinary team of toxicology and poison experts, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists at the Ontario Poison Centre (OPC), who will work directly with health care providers and emergency medical services teams across Manitoba. Dr. Milton Tenenbein, a Winnipeg toxicologist, will continue as the Physician Liaison for the enhanced Manitoba Poison Centre.

"We are excited about this new relationship with doctors and health care providers in Manitoba," said Dr. Margaret Thompson, OPC's Medical Director. "Our staff will continue to work with Dr. Tenenbein, other Manitoba's toxicologists, and local experts to ensure the best care for patients, wherever they need it."

Specific enhancements include:

  • It's free to call from anywhere in Manitoba.
  • It's fully bilingual (English/French). It also has access to multi-lingual services if needed.
  • It's staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. While the previous line had 24/7 coverage, the level of service was determined, in part, by how busy emergency room pediatric doctors were on any given day. This is now a dedicated, full time service no longer requiring coverage of emergency room physicians, freeing up time for these doctors to focus on the needs of patients in the emergency department.
  • The service provides patient tracking, follow up, and reporting functions. When poison specialists in Ontario recommend treatment at a Manitoba health care facility, they will contact the care provider for updates on patient status, check in on the treatment plans and answer any additional questions.
  • The line is fully staffed by people specialized and trained in poison control.

The current poison hotline, 204-787-2591, will automatically redirect calls to the toll-free number, allowing for uninterrupted service as the public and health care providers transition to the new number.

If needed, Manitobans can continue to call 911 or their local emergency number to get urgent care for poisonings.

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