Fact Sheet | Illinois Poison Center 
About the Illinois Poison Center

Fact Sheet

Oct 20, 2020
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The Illinois Poison Center is a non-profit health service that provides the people of Illinois with comprehensive and trusted information and treatment advice on potentially harmful substances via a free, confidential 24-hour helpline, 1-800-222-1222. The helpline is staffed by specially trained medical experts, including physicians, nurses and pharmacists.


In 2019, the IPC managed 80,071  individual cases from across Illinois. Of those calls, a majority (73,728 ) were for advice on treating someone exposed to a potentially harmful substance.  The additional 6,343 calls were for poison information. Approximately 41 percent of the poison exposure calls handled by the IPC last year involved children ages 5 and younger (29,972 pediatric exposures).  There were 91,723 total follow-up calls made to the public and health care facilities. The IPC provided clinical toxicology information to consumers via its website and blog - more than 1 million total pageviews in 2019. The IPC also provided clinical toxicology information via its website “My Child Ate…”  resource center (42 separate substance pages) - nearly 700,000 pageviews in 2019.


Medical professionals throughout Illinois turn to the IPC for specialized consultation services in the management of poisoned patients. In fact, healthcare professionals called the IPC on 23,624 cases regarding patients who were managed in a healthcare facility for a poisoning or overdose (32% of total exposures).  This is a 24% increase over the past 10 years.  


By providing treatment advice over the phone, the IPC experts managed 90 percent of the poison exposure calls from the public at the site of exposure eliminating the need for a referral to a health care facility.  IPC staff prevented an estimated 30,000 ER visits in 2019.  


The top 3 substances involved in exposures reported to the IPC are analgesics, sedative hypnotic/antipsychotic drugs, and cleaning substances (closely followed by antidepressants).  In 2019, the top 10 substances involved in exposures were:


1.   Analgesics: 10,822

2.   Sedative hypnotics/antipsychotics: 6,449

3.   Household cleaning substances: 5,650

4.   Antidepressants: 5,222

5.   Cosmetics/personal care products: 5,026

6.   Alcohols: 3,922

7.   Antihistamines: 3,636

8.   Foreign bodies/toys/miscellaneous: 3,083

9.   Stimulants and street drugs: 2,579

10. Anticonvulsants: 2,469


Economic Impact

The IPC saves lives and improves patient care by working with hospitals in Illinois to provide expert medical recommendations to healthcare providers treating patients exposed to potentially harmful substances. The IPC saves the people of Illinois $60 million annually by preventing unnecessary utilization of healthcare resources.


  • Research shows that if a poison center is not available, 70 percent of people will use other local emergency services, overburdening hospital emergency departments and creating unnecessary medical costs.
  • Multiple studies have found that consulting poison center experts shortens the average length of stay for poisoned patients admitted to the hospital by one to three days.


Education and Outreach Efforts


The IPC serves one of the largest populations of all poison centers in the nation covering all 102 counties in Illinois with a total estimated population of nearly 12.9 million.


A free online Poison Prevention Education Course and Resource Center (PPERC) enables the public and healthcare providers to learn about poison prevention and provides education and presentation materials that can be shared with their community.  Free continuing education credit available.


In 2001 the IPC launched its innovative satellite education network, the program allows the IPC to partner with hospitals throughout the state to provide poison prevention and education. Currently, the program includes 5 volunteer satellite education centers.


The IPC is a partner with the Toxikon Consortium, one of the largest and most successful professional toxicology training programs in the nation. More than 200 pharmacy students, pharmacy residents, medical students, emergency medicine residents, and emergency medicine pediatric fellows received specialized toxicology training in 2019.



General Information


The Illinois Poison Center is the nation’s oldest and one of the largest poison centers in the U.S.


In 1953, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center founded, funded and operated the first poison control center in the United States. In 2016, the Illinois Poison Center became a service of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association.


Click here for a list of IPC staff.


Click here for a PDF of the Fact Sheet


Medical backup for the IPC is provided by the Toxikon Consortium, a collaboration of all the toxicology resources between Cook County (Stroger) Hospital, The University of Illinois Hospital and Medical Center of Chicago, and the Illinois Poison Center.  Toxikon faculty include 12 board certified medical toxicologists and 4 board certified pharmacist toxicologists



Stay in Touch:



FREE Complimentary Safety Packets (sticker, magnet and first aid recommendations for a poisoning emergency) and subscriptions (blog, alerts, poison prevention) also available.


For questions and/or comments (non-emergency), contact us:  IPCadmin@team-iha.org or 312.906.6136

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