From 1996 to 1997, researchers at the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University in Washington carried out the second phase of a study that was designed to evaluate options for reconfiguring the country's network of regional poison control centers into a more effective national system.
The team conducted in-depth case studies of six Poison Control Centers across the U.S. to determine the essential functions of a center, and to identify the costs associated with each of those functions. A national survey of the remaining poison control centers across the U.S. was conducted to determine the validity and generalizability of the information obtained in the case studies.
The Center for Health Policy Research team made the following recommendations:
- Create a partially integrated system linked through a common 800 telephone number with some centralized subfunctions.
- The integrated U.S. poison control system should contain about 50 regional poison control centers, each serving a population of approximately 5 million people.
- Establish an oversight committee to work with the poison control centers to oversee the operation and administration of the nationwide network, identify efficiencies, cost-containment options, and ways to reduce duplication of effort.