Belgian Poison Centre impact on healthcare expenses of unintentional poisonings: a cost–benefit analysis
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This study evaluates the impact of the Belgian Poison Centre (BPC) on national healthcare expenses for calls from the public for unintentional poisonings.
The probability of either calling the BPC, consulting a general practitioner (GP) or consulting an emergency department (ED) was examined in a telephone survey (February–March 2016). Callers were asked what they would have done in case of unavailability of the BPC. The proportion and cost for ED-ambulatory care, ED 24-h observation or hospitalisation were calculated from individual invoices. A cost–benefit analysis was performed.
Unintentional cases (n = 485) from 1045 calls to the BPC were included. After having called the BPC, 92.1% did not seek further medical help, 4.2% consulted a GP and 3.7% went to an ED. In the absence of the BPC, 13.8% would not have sought any further help, 49.3% would have consulted a GP and 36.9% would have gone to the hospital. The cost–benefit ratio of the availability of the BPC as versus its absence was estimated at 5.70.
Financial savings can be made if people first call the BPC for unintentional poisonings.
KeywordsPoison control centre Cost–benefit ratio Unintentional poisonings Decision tree Healthcare expenses Public health
Belgian Poison Centre
Emergency department ambulatory care
- ED-24 h
Emergency department 24-h observation
Federal Public Service
Ghent University Hospital
Poison Control Centre
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors report no declarations of interests.
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