Welcome to the
South Texas Poison Center


History of the South Texas Poison Center

The South Texas Poison Center (STPC) was created in 1995 as part of the PoisonHelp 1-800-222-1222 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
  • medicine
  • 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 poisonings.

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 information.

South Texas Poison Center area

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 information.

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 Emergency Communications.


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