Practices of Regional Poison Centers That Can Reduce Potential Liabilities

To minimize the risk of legal actions against a poison center, quality assurance and risk-management programs are essential. Daily physician audits or monitoring of the advice given by poison information specialists should be done. Such interactions enhance care and ensure patient safety for the individual and establish a higher general standard.

The medical toxicologists and clinical pharmacists responsible for supervising the poison information specialists must be able to adequately assess the competence and capabilities of the staff and to make recommendations, take corrective actions, and provide suggestions for improvement. This process is facilitated by such actions as audiotaping calls made to the poison center and the subsequent advice given, and reviewing written records maintained by the information specialist on each particular case. Documentation is extremely important, because in the event of a lawsuit, the most likely area of dispute will be what was actually said to the patient or physician calling for advice.

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