History of the South Texas Poison Center
The South Texas Poison Center (STPC) was created in 1995 as part of the
Texas Poison Center Network (TPCN). The TPCN serves the population of
Texas through six regionalized poison centers
(www.poisoncontrol.org). The STPC is the center
authorized and designated to serve the Texas Department of Health Public
Health Region 8 and 11 that encompass 47 counties comprising an area of
approximately 53,000 square miles.
The poison centers are linked by state-of-the-art computer and
telecommunications systems that allow them all to be reached using the
same 800 telephone number. This network insures the shortest time period
possible before each call is answered.
The public can access the STPC 24 hours a day for assessment, referral,
and treatment recommendations. The poison information specialists are
skilled in assisting both the general public and health professionals.
Information specialists are available to provide assistance and answer
questions in English, Spanish, and TDD for the hearing impaired.
Interpreters are available for other languages.
Services Provided by the South Texas Poison Center
- 24-hour free and confidential service
- Extensive on-site resources
- Medical toxicologist back-up
- Public and professional education
The South Texas Poison Center is staffed 24 hours per day with at least one
Specialist in Poison Information (SPI) on duty at all times. Access to all
poison centers in Texas is provided through a single, nationwide unified
toll-free number: 1-800-222-1222.
The STPC provides safe and effective poison information and related drug
information services only. Indepth, non-toxicological drug information calls are
forwarded to the UTHSCSA Drug Information Center.
The center receives a variety of calls involving:
- household chemicals
- emergency room calls
- food poisoning
- plants and mushrooms
- snake, insect and spider bites and stings
- environmental and occupational exposures
- drug indentification
When a call is made to the STPC, a SPI quickly gathers a history of the
poisoning as well as background information necessary for the provision
of treatment advice. This background information includes the age,
weight, and general health of the victim. The SPI makes a treatment
decision and advises the caller of the proper steps to take. The SPIs
of the STPC can provide safe and effective poison treatment for human
Extensive On-Site Resources
The STPC staff has access to the MICROMEDEX Health Care Series for Windows at each network workstation; including POISINDEX System, DRUGDEX System, IDENTIDEX System, Martindale Complete Drug Reference, TOMES Plus System, and other computer database products.
An extensive library of current textbooks is maintained covering a variety of topics related to toxicology. SPI's also have direct access to over 4,000 journal articles, internet websites as well as toxicology databases at the National Library of Medicine via computer modem.
The STPC is located on the campus of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, which has one of the largest medical libraries in the country.
Medical Toxicologist Back-Up
The STPC maintains a list of active consultants in specialty fields, such as mycology, entomology, and botany. Copies of the specialist list are kept at each SPI workstation for easy reference. The TPCN has two pediatric medical toxicologists, one in Galveston and one in Amarillo who are available at any given time for special pediatric cases.
Public and Professional Education
Professional education programs are provided by the Managing Director, the Community Education Specialists, and the SPIs. The education programs are provided in various forms. A clinical toxicology lab course is taught through the School of Allied Health each fall at the STPC by the Medical Director and the SPIs.
The STPC also serves as a training center for pediatric residents who rotate through the center each month to learn about how the center functions and to listen to SPIs taking calls. The Medical Director serves as regional director for the Advanced Hazmat Life Support (AHLS) course supported by the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology and also serves on the AHLS Advisory Board. Additionally, as our center is located on the border with Mexico and Latin American, we view cross-border training of health professionals as vital to increasing poisoning treatment awareness among providers.
The STPC recognizes that one of the effective ways to reduce the severity of poisonings and poison exposure is through providing poisoning prevention education. The STPC has two Community Educators and one full time Community Educator Assistant. The primary focus of the Harlingen Community Educator is the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV), which contains the fastest growing regional population in the US. The San Antonio Community Educator has the primary responsibility for coordination of education material development, formal presentations to diverse organizations and schools, conducting health fairs and media contact and exposure.
STPC HIPAA Compliance
Poison centers were established as health care providers authorized to share protected patient
information with health care providers providing direct patient care in HIPAA regulations
in 45CFR parts 160 and 164 as published in the Federal Register on Dec. 28, 2000.
In addition, the CDC has provided the American Association of
Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) with a grant of authority to conduct surveillance activity and
function as a public health authority to which covered entities may disclose protected health
South Texas Poison Center Mission Statement
The South Texas Poison Center (STPC) is committed to reducing the
incidence, severity, and cost of poisonings through our 24 hour
telephone hotline, our education programs and our free poisoning prevention
The STPC is funded and supported by the Texas Department of Health and
the Health Resources and Services Administration.
The Texas Poison Control Network Mission
The mission of the Texas Poison Control Network (TPCN) is to reduce the
morbidity, mortality, and costs associated with poisonings. This goal is
accomplished by educating the citizens of Texas to prevent poisonings.
In addition, it is achieved through proper response to telephone
inquiries when a poisoning emergency arises.
The TPCN and the individual centers are funded and supported by the
Commission on State