Poison exposures are a significant public health concern. Despite the impact that regional poison control centers have on reducing morbidity and mortality associated with poison exposures, they are facing a serious financial crisis today resulting in an increased emphasis on their economic justification.
Using decision-analysis techniques, the cost-effectiveness of the treatment of poison exposures with the services of a regional poison control center compared with treatment without access to any poison control center was evaluated. The relative cost-effectiveness was modeled based on 2 outcomes (morbidity and mortality) for each of 4 typical poison exposures. Additionally, analyses were conducted to test the sensitivity of the cost-effectiveness ratios to outcome probability, average inpatient and emergency department costs, and proportion of poison exposures treated on site by the regional poison control center. A societal perspective was adopted.
The regional poison control center was substantially more cost-effective than the treatment of poison exposures without the services of a regional poison control center for both outcomes (morbidity and mortality) in each of the poison exposures considered. The results of the sensitivity analyses demonstrated that the outcomes of the decision analyses do not change regardless of the type of poison exposure, outcome considered, clinical outcome probabilities, average inpatient and emergency department costs, and proportion of poison-exposure cases treated on site by a regional poison control center.
The regional poison control center is consistently more cost-effective in the treatment of poison exposures with an average cost-effectiveness ratio (cost per successful outcome) approximately half of that achieved without the services of a regional poison control center. Finally, significant cost savings to society are realized for each additional successful outcome obtained with a regional poison control center.Arch Intern Med. 1996;156:2601-2608