In this Section:
In an emergency, ring
13 11 26
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Australia wide.
If the victim has collapsed, stopped breathing, is fitting or is suffering an anaphylactic reaction, ring 000 for an ambulance.
Do NOT ring the Poisons Information Centre.
Calling the VPIC is the cost of a local call (excluding mobile phones).
Callers who do not speak English can access the Victorian Poisons Information Centre via the translating and interpreting service on 13 14 50.
It is very stressful when a poisoning occurs and it is hard to think clearly about what to do. Staff at the Victorian Poisons Information Centre will tell you what first aid is required, whether it is necessary to call an ambulance, to go to the doctor or whether nothing needs to be done.
Please note: The Victorian Poisons Information Centre does not give advice about poisoning in animals. Please ring your vet for advice.
The correct first aid for a poisoning incident will depend on many factors. By ringing the VPIC you will get advice that is specific to your situation.
Staff advise thousands of callers each year about poisoning incidents. Advice from people who are not experts in poisoning may be inappropriate or unsafe.
Many poisoning incidents do not need medical treatment. You may be able to avoid a stressful trip and wait at the hospital or clinic. By calling the VPIC you can find out what first aid to use and whether there are symptoms to watch for.
The best treatment for poisoning is constantly changing. Advice you may have received in the past may not be the recommended treatment anymore, considering current knowledge.
Also, many books and antidote charts are out of date and incorrect. Well-meaning friends and relatives may advise you about treating poisoning incidents, but their information may also be out of date. For example, inducing vomiting was once the main treatment for swallowed poisons but we now know that it does not reliably remove poisons from the body and is often dangerous.
If you ring the Victorian Poisons Information Centre you will receive the most up-to-date advice as our information databases are updated many times each year.
Make sure the Victorian Poisons Information Centre telephone number (13 11 26) is handy to all the telephones in your house.
We need to know some details, for example:
Is the victim you, your child, your friend, your work mate, your husband, etc.?
For a child, we also need to know their age.
It is often important to know the weight of the victim, especially when the incident involves medicines and children.
We need as much detail as possible. It is best if you can bring the container to the telephone so you can find the information we ask for.
Helpful information includes:
If the poisoning involves a plant, we will need to know the name of the plant before we can give advice. Attempting to identify a plant over the telephone is not reliable. To make the situation easier it is best that you know the names (common name and/or botanical name) for all the plants in your house or garden before such an incident occurs.
How much was the person exposed to?
A whiff, a mouthful, a cupful, a splash, a lick? Checking how much of the substance is missing can help, you may need to count the remaining tablets or measure out the remaining liquid from a bottle of medicine.
Did it just happen, or was it yesterday, or weeks or months ago?
Is the person OK? If it is a child, are they distressed or do they seem to be quite happy and normal? Is there any coughing or choking? For skin exposures – is there any sign of skin irritation, broken skin or burns? For inhaled poisons – is there coughing, wheezing or any other breathing symptom or difficulty?
Has the victim had fluids to drink, has the skin been washed, has the eye been washed, etc.? Did someone induce vomiting? If so, how was this done?
It is important that the Victorian Poisons Information Centre be able to contact you after your call. There are numerous reasons for this:
Your telephone number and any other information you give us remains confidential. We do not keep a log of telephone numbers, we do not know how many times you have called – and we do not know if you call frequently.