Background: Funding poison center (PC) operations has become a major challenge nationwide. Increasingly, state and federal budget cuts have resulted in diminished funding to PCs.
Objectives: In an effort to demonstrate the value of current PC phone services, a cost-benefit analysis of a regional center was completed.
Methods: A telephone survey was used to collect data from PC callers during an 8-week period in 2004. Callers with human exposure poisonings determined by the PC to be of minimal or no risk were asked to complete the phone survey. Callers were asked their alternative plan if the PC staff had not been available to assist them. Benefits were measured as healthcare charges potentially avoided.
Results: A total of 652 caller surveys were completed. The benefit-to-cost ratio was 7.67 (95% C.I. 6.83, 8.50).
Conclusion: In addition to non-monetary benefits, the operation of a regional poison center provides significant positive return on investment.