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The Maryland Poison Center Celebrates 50 Years of Expert Care

State-wide service located at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2022.

Cartoon graphic celebrating the Maryland Poison Center's 50 years of expertise from 1972 to 2022 with a depiction of a person fielding calls at a call center.

By Emily Paterson
January 18, 2022

Since 1972, it has been the mission of the Maryland Poison Center (MPC) to save lives and dollars by providing emergency triage, treatment, and prevention information to Maryland’s citizens and health professionals. Serving 4.1 million Marylanders in 21 counties and Baltimore City, the MPC is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by pharmacists and nurses who are certified specialists in poison information (CSPI).

The MPC, which can be reached by calling 1-800-222-1222, has answered approximately 2.5 million calls over the last 50 years from Marylanders dealing with a poisoning emergency.

The MPC is certified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) as one of 55 regional poison centers in the country. All eligible specialists have been certified by the AAPCC as CSPIs. MPC specialists have more than 250 years of combined experience managing poisoning and overdose cases. In addition to the experience of the poison specialists, Executive Director Bruce Anderson, PharmD, DABAT, FAACT, and Clinical Toxicologist James Leonard, PharmD, DABAT, are board certified in clinical toxicology, and the center’s Medical Director Joshua King, MD, FACMT, is fellowship trained and board certified in internal medicine, nephrology, and medical toxicology. Anderson is also a professor of pharmacy practice and science at the School of Pharmacy.

“Fifty years of service to Maryland is a wonderful milestone for the Maryland Poison Center,” says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy. “Over the decades, the Poison Center has adapted to changing times and continues to be a relevant and vital service to us all. I am proud of the impact they have in our state and proud that they are part of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy community.”

MPC’s Role in Public Health Events

The MPC has been a public service through the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy since 1972 and has continued to grow over the years. During its first year, the center managed 5,600 cases and kept paper records. In 2021, the MPC managed more than 37,000 cases, with more than 80 percent of those cases involving human exposure, using a sophisticated electronic system to track and manage calls.

The MPC analyzes cases in real-time for trends and events that might be of public health significance, such as food poisoning, product recalls, and potential terrorism. Its specialists have helped during many public health events over the years, including:

“Over the last 50 years, the Maryland Poison Center has answered the call about 2.5 million times,” says Jill Morgan, PharmD, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science at the School of Pharmacy. “Marylanders rely on the MPC’s pharmacists and nurses with specialized training and national certification to help manage poisonings and overdoses 24 hours a day/7 days a week. The center also provides education to health care providers and the community, saving health care dollars. The MPC is a service you hope to never need and are so relieved to find the experts there when you do.”

“Throughout the past 50 years and the variety of challenges over that time, the Maryland Poison Center has and continues to meet its mission. We save lives and save dollars,” says Anderson, the center’s executive director. “We also educate the next generation of pharmacists, nurses, and physicians on managing poisoning and overdose cases. We’re constantly monitoring cases reported to the MPC looking for potential public health events that may not otherwise be readily detected by an individual pharmacist or nurse at an individual hospital. It’s truly remarkable what the MPC has been able to accomplish over the past half century.”

How you can get involved with MPC

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