Toxicovigilance: Experience of the Tygerberg Poison Information Centre in context

Gerhard H Verdoorn


Poison information centres play a vital role in supporting healthcare professionals with advice on management of the poisoned patient, knowledge about which is often deficient.

Owing to a lack of broad-based knowledge on human poisoning, there is a perception in healthcare circles and in the public arena that pesticides or agrochemicals are responsible for most incidents of human poisoning. The clinical findings of the Tygerberg Poison Information Centre demonstrate that pesticides are not responsible for most toxin exposures – medicines, corrosives, narcotics, petroleum fuels and industrial chemicals play a far bigger role in human poisoning. Pesticides are, however, regarded as much more dangerous than the other chemicals implicated in toxin exposures, affording activists a vehicle to lobby against them.

Lack of knowledge about poisoning is likely to result in incorrect diagnosis and treatment. Poison information centres offer on-call information that should make up for the lack of advanced knowledge in healthcare circles.

Author's affiliations

Gerhard H Verdoorn, Director: Griffon Poison Information Centre, Randburg, Gauteng

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Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2013;103(5):288-289. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.6840

Article History

Date submitted: 2013-02-27
Date published: 2013-02-27

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