With recent discussion about the potential closing of California Poison Control Centers due to budget cuts, I suddenly became shockingly aware of how much Emergency Departments depend on these centers for assistance. They are always so knowledgeable and helpful in managing various ingestions and poisonings.

How do the Poison Control Center folks know so much?!

First of all, they are all just plain smart. In addition, I recently discovered that they rely on the TOXNET website, which houses the Toxicology Network Database. This is a public website. Check it out!

If you click on the less-than-obvious link “HSDB” in the left column, you will enter the Hazardous Substance Data Bank. Here you can search for any ingestant or chemical. For instance, you can search for lithium, digoxin, or MDMA (ecstasy). The website provides extensive information about the hazardous substance, but if you want to get to the “meat” of the information, go straight to the section on Emergency Medical Treatment.

Although there isn’t an iPhone app for this website yet (hmm idea?), you can go the TOXNET PDA website which formats the screen smaller so that it fits on your handheld device. This is the website: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/pda.


Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD


Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg SF General. ALiEM Founder @aliemteam #PostitPearls at https://t.co/50EapJORCa Bio: https://t.co/7v7cgJqNEn
Michelle Lin, MD