Poison control centers decrease emergency healthcare utilization costs
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Patient home management by a regional poison control center has potential to save public healthcare dollars by preventing unnecessary utilization of emergency department services. We wished to conservatively quantify such savings at a large regional poison center and compare savings to funds received in state support.
Banner Poison Control Center (BPCC) serves a population of about four million in central AZ. A telephone survey of callers who were managed at home in February and March of 2007 after nontoxic exposures was used to calculate what percentage of such callers would have sought unnecessary medical care in emergency departments. Twelve emergency departments geographically dispersed in the region were surveyed, and a state database of hospital charges was queried to determine hospital charges and physician professional charges for conservative management of a patient who would have been advised to remain at home by BPCC.
BPCC managed 28,883 callers at home in 2007. Seventy percent of home-managed patients would have sought unnecessary care in emergency departments. Using most conservative assumptions, a median of $33 million [range $18 million to $45 million] in unnecessary health care charges were prevented by BPCC home-management in 2007. A median of about $36 in unnecessary health care charges were prevented for each dollar of state funding BPCC received.
Home management by BPCC provides large dollar savings to residents compared to dollars received in state support.
KeywordsPoison control centers health care utilization cost savings
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