Washington State budget cuts could kill poison hot line -- and kids

In a sparsely furnished cubicle somewhere, a telephone rings. A woman's concerned voice on the phone pleads to a specialist for assistance. She needs to know if her child will succumb to poisoning after eating a large volume of toothpaste. She is calmed by the helpful person who answered the phone, and assured that her child shall more than likely be just fine. After receiving instructions about observing the child for symptoms, and getting some valuable tips about how to prevent another massive minty ingestion in the future, the call is ended. It's another happy ending for all involved.

The above described assistance, which is routinely provided by the Washington Poison Control Center, may be destined to become a thing of the past. As reported by King5 News via msnbc, if state budget cuts in Washington are allowed to pass as indicated, the poison control center may be required to cease or curtail operations at the end of this year. According to the report, the call center logs approximately 250 calls per day, most of which are from children. However, the center has also proved to be a valuable resource tool for doctors and other health care professionals, who make up some 20 percent of the center's call volume.
Dr. Sherri Zorn is quoted in the report as stating: "They have access to more information than I possibly could, even if I spent three hours researching it on my computer. And fact is, if someone's really been poisoned by something, you only have minutes to hours to make the correct diagnosis and to treat them."

When it comes to making state budget cuts, which in this particular case amounts to a reduction of about $2 million, we need to make sure that good sense is directing legislators when wielding their budget slashing knives. Perhaps this is one case where alternative funding options should be investigated prior to simply withdrawing important funding. Either that, or Washington State's local representatives had better hope that it's not their own child or grandchild who is the next kid to swallow something unexpected.
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