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Call about poisons, herbals, household products, etc.

About Us

Our Mission is to reduce the incidence of illness or death due to exposure to toxins (e.g. poisons). We serve children/youth and adults.

The mandate of the IWK RPC is to provide timely and current information regarding the toxicological care of the poisoned patient and to follow these patients to determine the outcomes. Once a call to the IWK Poison Centre is answered, our health care professionals establish a relationship with the patient who the call relates to, and accept part of the responsibility for the ongoing care of that patient. Whether initial contact with the RPC comes from the patient, family or other health care provider, the staff at the RPC must, to the best of their ability, ensure that everything possible is done to provide current, evidence-based care.

The RPC is responsible for all of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. We provide consult services for health care professionals in New Brunswick concerning the management of the poisoned patient in a health care setting.

The RPC provides a 24-hour, phone consultation service to both the public and health care professionals. We are able to provide information on a real or potential exposure to toxins.

In the event that RPC recommends that a public caller seek treatment in a health care facility the RPC then would:

  • ensure the safest mode of transport
  • alert the health care facility of the eventual arrival of the patient
  • give the facility specifics of the incident
  • advise regarding the concerns of the expsosure
  • provide the most current treatment recommendations
  • follow the patient till medical outcome has been reached

The IWK Regional Poison Centre has a staff of:

  • 12 Specialists in Poison Information (nurses, pharmacists); 5 of whom are Certified Specialists in Poison Information
  • 7 Medical Consultants
  • 2 Medical Toxicologists
  • An Administrative Assistant
  • Additional External Consultants

Quick Facts

  • No call is too small! If you have a question or think a poisoning may have occurred, call the expert staff at the Poison Centre for information and treatment advice
  • We are located in the IWK Health Centre but handle poisoning calls for people of all ages: children, youth, adults, and seniors
  • Calls are answered 24/7 by registered nurses and pharmacists who have specialized training in poisonings
  • Almost 10,000 calls come into the Poison Centre every year
  • >40% of the calls are about children under the age of 5 years
  • >70% of home poisonings can be managed safely at home, saving a trip to the Emergency Department
  • Cleaning products, medications, and personal care products are the most common cause of poisonings in children

5 Things You Might Not Know About Poisons

  • One pill can be very dangerous, even fatal, if swallowed by a child. Heart and blood pressure medications are an example of these types of medications.
  • Windshield washer fluid and antifreeze are two very poisonous products that are found in most households. A mouthful is enough to cause a severe poisoning in people and animals.
  • Plants, berries, and mushrooms can cause poisonings. Know the names of the plants in your house and yard.
  • Poison can enter your body in a lot of different ways. Some of the most common ways are by mouth, on your skin, in your eye, or by breathing it in.
  • Poisonings occur commonly in children when the product is already in use. Put medications, cleaners, and other harmful products away as soon as they have been used.