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Official Creation of the Poison Control Center and the Growth of the National Poison Control Movement

1930s-1940s
Dr. Jay Arena encourages residents to create reference files for a "look-up" reference list. Arena's reputation in this area grows, and pediatricians call for advice when emergency situations of poison ingestion occur.

1951
The Committee on Accident Prevention of the Academy of Pediatrics finds through a survey that the majority of accidents in pediatric cases are accidental poisonings.

Dr. Jay Arena began recording cases of accidental poisonings and the ingredients that caused these poisonings early in his career. As his reputation grew, physicians increasingly called him with questions that they had about poison cases, and he enlisted the help of his residents to aid with the collection about the information of the toxicity of consumer products. The body of collected information grew, but it was not until the early 1950s that pediatricians realized the gravity of accidental poisoning for children and began to adopt similar methods as those used by Dr. Arena.

In 1952, the American Academy of Pediatrics initiated a survey among physicians to determine the major causes of accidents in children. Dr. Arena, as a member of the Academy's Accident Prevention Committee, predicted that the results would favor accidental poisonings. His predictions proved correct, at approximately 50 percent. Dr. Arena then shared with his colleagues the recording methods he had been developing at Duke. Very soon afterwards, a hospital in Chicago began to implement Dr. Arena's methods and was the first to adopt the nomenclature of poison control center. In 1954, Duke adopted the title and called itself the second poison control center in existence.

Listen to Dr. Arena discussing the founding of the first two poison control centers, the second being Duke Poison Control Center.

1953
First PCC established in Chicago.

1954
Duke PCC established as second in US.

1957
The National Clearinghouse of Poison Control Centers is created, enabling poison control centers to centralize poison information and statistics.

1958
American Association of Poison Control Centers is created with the purpose of improving the quality of poison treatment services and developing national standards.


Logo of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, a skull and telephone.

1967
There are approximately 550 poison control centers in the United States.

1970s and early 1980s
A national movement begins to regionalize poison control centers and improve their services.

"Poison control centers. . .have access to information about almost any toxic or potentially toxic product and the specific antidotes required for treatment."
--Dr. Arena in Child Safety is No Accident, 1978.

Arena & LyeSafety CapsResidencyCreation of PCCDr. Osterhout & Daily LifeAdvocacy, Education
& Outreach
BibliographyHome

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