Victorian Poisons Information_banner_1

Departments

Calling the VPIC

In an emergency

    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.

Product manufacturers: Before listing the Poisons Information Centre number on your product or MSDS, you must provide product details to the National Poisons Register. Please call (02) 9515 1267.

If an animal has been exposed to a poison, please do not ring VPIC. Contact your local veterinarian for advice. VPIC only gives advice about human exposures.

What can the VPIC do for you?

Tell you what to do next

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.

 

Provide correct first aid advice for poisoning

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.

 

Help you avoid unnecessary visits to the doctor or hospital

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.

 

Provide up-to-date information

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Also, many books and antidote charts are out of date and incorrect. Well-meaning friends and relatives may advise you about treating poisoning incidents, but their information may also be out of date.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.

When should you call the VPIC?

  1. If you or someone in your care may have been poisoned. This includes situations in which a wrong medicine or wrong dose has been given to someone. Do not wait for symptoms to occur. Always check if you are unsure. Poisons may include:
    • prescription medicines
    • over-the-counter medicines
    • cleaning and laundry products
    • kerosene, petrol, etc
    • perfumes and aftershaves
    • car products
    • insecticides, weed killers, rat and snail baits
    • paints
    • plants and mushrooms.
  2. If a person is bitten or stung by a marine creature, animal, reptile, spider or insect.
  3. If you have any questions or concerns about:
    • prevention of poisoning
    • hazards associated with chemicals, plants, pesticides and other products.

What we need to know when you call the VPIC

What has happened?

We need to know some details, for example:

  •      "My friend swallowed some petrol"
  •      "My child got some weed killer on his skin"
  •      "My family has eaten some mushrooms that don’t look normal"
  •      "A work mate splashed a chemical in his eye".

 


To whom did it happen?

Is the victim you, your child, your friend, your work mate, your husband, etc.?

For a child, we also need to know their age.

 

How much does the victim weigh?

It is often important to know the weight of the victim, especially when the incident involves medicines and children.


What substance is involved?

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:

  •      The brand name
  •      Active ingredients/constituents
  •      The strength of the active ingredients, especially for medications (e.g. paracetamol 24 mg/mL)
  •      The manufacturer
  •      What the product is used for and how it is used
  •      Whether it is for household or industrial use
  •      Whether it is liquid, powder, gas or solid
  •      The type of container, e.g. spray bottle, dropper bottle
  •      Size of the container
  •      How full the container is now and before the incident.


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.

 

When did it happen?

Did it just happen, or was it yesterday, or weeks or months ago?

 

Does the victim have any symptoms?

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?


What treatment has been given already?

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?

 

Your telephone number

It is important that the Victorian Poisons Information Centre be able to contact you after your call. There are numerous reasons for this:

  • So we can check how the victim is, if required.
  • To reassure the caller who may not have been able to take in the information we provided during the initial call due to the stress of the situation.
  • To give additional advice if necessary.

   
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.