There is a terrific app clinicians can use themselves and recommend to patients, especially patients with children in their household. It is the webPoisonControl App.
The app is a collaboration of a group of Poison Control Centers (PCC) located in various U.S. states, all under the guidance of the National Capital Poison Center in Washington, DC. It's a free, interactive tool that guides users through a specific poison exposure situation in much the same way it would be done if someone phoned into a poison control center.
Across the U.S., Poison Control Centers provide a critical resource at times of possible ingestion or exposure emergencies. But, with more people turning to the Internet to look up possible solutions to adverse ingestions, there was a need for a reliable and reputable platform. The App also has a similar Web-based version.
When using the App, the user is guided through a "survey the situation" set of questions to establish the demographic of the person ("patient" involved) and the seriousness of the incident. For example, does the incident involve a young child, pregnant woman, older adult, pet or disabled person.
The App also verifies if the incident is a possible suicide attempt. "Yes" or "No" responses to these questions take the user through a protocol, including securing immediate emergency medical attention.
Within the protocol, the App helps the user discern what substance was involved in the incident (e.g., a user can enter the product name, scan a bar code from a bottle, or enter the code imprinted on a pill). It also makes recommendations for action steps to be taken. Additionally, the App provides a list of common symptoms that may arise.
The user will receive follow-up emails about their case within 2 hours and at 8 hours, 24 hours and 3 days after the exposure. However, the app and online version do not replace making a call to a local PCC.
In fact, users will be prompted to make that call before they finish inputting all of the case information. In tandem with the call, the App provides a great way to have a record of the incident that can be referred to at the hospital, if necessary, or fduring ollow-up doctor's appointment.
The App was launched in April 2015 and is free.
Karen M. Rider, M.A. is a freelance writer and copywriter who specializes in healthcare news and technology, integrative medicine, wellness, and health psychology.