Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why do you need to know my name and phone number?

A name and phone number are needed so the Poison Center can call you back if disconnected or if we need to follow up to see how you are doing.

What if I don’t want to give my name and phone number?

We will help you even if you do not want to give us your name and/or phone number. Helping callers is our main concern.

Why does the poison center want you to bring the product that was taken to the phone?

Products with the same name may have different formulas and product ingredients can change year to year.

Who answers the calls and what are their qualifications?

Our phones are staffed by doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other medical professionals who regularly consult with medical toxicologists and have been trained in handling poisoning calls. They are required to take a special poison certification exam. They are local experts who know the community and are trusted by local doctors, pharmacists, paramedics and nurses to provide the best information on poison-related questions and treatments

Will you be able to tell me if I should go to my doctor or emergency room?

Yes. Our specialists will be able to tell you what to do. We can manage 91% of calls at home but if you need to go to the emergency room, we will tell you if you can drive or if you need to call 911. We will then call the emergency room to let them know you are on your way and suggest treatment for you.

Can I call if it is not a poisoning emergency?

Yes. Our specialists are specially trained not only to help patients who have been exposed to poisons but to give information that can help prevent poisonings, too. Don’t hesitate to call if you have a question.

Where can I get Mr. Yuk stickers?

Mr. Yuk stickers can be ordered on our website. If you only want a sheet or two of stickers you can send a request with a self-addressed stamped envelope and we will send them out to you. You can also call the 1.800.222.1222 and request a Yuk Pak that contains a sheet of stickers. Mr. Yuk stickers are also found at most Bartell Drug stores.

Will you report me as a bad parent if I call too often?

We do not have a “bad parent” or “frequent caller” list. We receive over 65,000 calls a year and unless you tell us you have called before, we won’t know. Our job is to help keep you and your loved ones safe. Calling the poison center is doing the right thing to ensure that safety. Your information is kept confidential; in rare instances where serious neglect or abuse is apparent, the Washington Poison Center is required to notify the appropriate agency.

Are most medication bottles child proof?

No. The caps that are used are only child resistant—delaying the amount of time it takes a child to open the bottle. Be sure to keep medication up high, out of sight and out of reach of your children. Better yet, keep your meds in a locked box or medicine cabinet.

Is the Washington Poison Center a government agency?

No. We are a nonprofit charitable organization.

How can I tell the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms?

There is no easy way to tell the difference. Poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms thrive in similar conditions. However, if someone has eaten an unknown mushroom, we can provide assistance even if the mushroom cannot be identified.

Does the poison center do testing on food or chemicals for consumers?

No. The Washington Poison Center is not a testing facility.

Does the poison center give consumers pill identification information?

No. The Washington Poison Center does not provide pill identification for the general public.