Poison hotline receives record number of calls

The hotline in the Swiss Toxicological Information Centre rang 35,568 times last year – almost 100 times a day – up from 34,283 in 2010.

This content was published on January 4, 2012 minutes and agencies

Nine out of ten cases to the emergency number (145) involved callers who were concerned about exposure to various products and agents. One in ten was to do with preventive and theoretical enquiries.

Fifty-two per cent of patients were children who had typically swallowed something by mistake. In 43 per cent of calls adults were involved, two-thirds of whom had tried to commit suicide. Five per cent of cases dealt with animals.

The information centre broke down the products and agents involved as follows: 36 per cent medicinal drugs; 25 per cent household products; 11 per cent plants; six per cent technical and industrial products; five per cent cosmetics and personal care products; four per cent food and beverages; three per cent products used in agriculture and horticulture; three per cent recreational drugs, drugs of abuse and alcohol; two per cent mushrooms; one per cent venomous animals; three per cent other/unknown.

Hugo Kupferschmidt, the centre’s director, said the 470 cases of mushroom poisoning – up from 450 the previous year – were largely seasonal and depended heavily on the weather, which is why the figure changes so much from year to year.

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