RD312 - Virginia Department of Health Office of Emergency Medical Services Cost Analysis of the Virginia Poison Control Network - August 2012

Executive Summary:
Item 297 of the 2012 Appropriation Act included language that directed the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to assess the level of funding needed to provide statewide coverage for poison control services at two poison control centers and provide a report to the Chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees by November 1, 2012.

The VDH Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS), which serves as the contract administrator for the poison control centers, contracted with PHBV Partners LLP to develop the report. In order to prepare the report, PHBV interviewed poison control center directors and obtained relevant financial data. PHBV also obtained copies of annual reports from the OEMS, and also researched and reviewed information available from external sources.

At a minimum, Virginia’s Poison Control Centers services should include provision of poison information and consultation services to the public and health professionals free of charge. These services should be available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week via toll free telephone. In addition, centers shall have language interpretive services available for non-English speaking individuals and appropriate telecommunications equipment for the hearing impaired.

Furthermore, public education by the centers through public website, public media, printed educational materials or other methods should include, at a minimum, accessing poison control centers, first aid in poisoning and poison prevention measures, all free of charge. In addition, centers should provide education and training for health care practitioners and emergency responders in toxicology and medical management of poisoning.

Centers should meet the national standards and maintain certification by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). These standards establish the minimal staffing required to operate a center and the maximum number of exposure cases handled by a poison specialist. Centers should maintain records of all cases following the guidelines established by the AAPCC and shall submit human exposure data to the AAPCC and the Commonwealth.

The Blue Ridge Poison Center, the Virginia Poison Center and the National Capital Poison Center currently all receive funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition, the centers each receive additional funding from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. Over the past three years State funding to the poison control centers has been decreased by 67 percent. At present, no State funding has been appropriated to any of the centers for FY14.

Based on the review of the attached study, VDH concludes:

• The minimal total costs to operate two poison control centers are approximated at $2,780,000.

• Funding from the Commonwealth and by the Health Resources and Services Administration does not cover the minimum cost to cover poison control services to Virginia.

• In the face of reduced state and federal funding, the poison control centers have identified alternate sources of funding to cover center costs in the short term; however such funding sources may not be adequate to cover costs over the long term.