Frequently Asked Questions

Have I been bitten by something poisonous?

Bites and stings from native fauna are a common problem in Australia, only some of which can cause serious illness or, rarely, fatalities. Snake bite, Funnel Web spider bite and jellyfish stings in Australia can potentially be a life-threatening condition.
Click 'Reveal Response' to manage common bites and stings.

Plants and Mushrooms

There are many plants and fungi that can be dangerous or even fatal if ingested. Children in particular are at risk of harmful effects from garden plants as they crawl and taste various flora. It is important to teach children not to ingest strange flowers, leaves and other parts straight from a plant or bush.
Common symptoms of poisoning from plants include:

stomach cramps
burning to the lips, mouth or throat
itching, rash or allergic symptoms
More severe effects can include irregular heart beat and convulsions (fitting)
Poisonous plants can be difficult to recognise. Plants to be concerned about include:
Amanita mushrooms (fly agaric)
Angel's trumpet (Jimsonweed)
Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia)
FIRST AID for poisoning from plants is as for any other ingestion or contact.

Has my child been poisoned?

If your child has been exposed to something and you are concerned about poisoning, call the Poisons Centre on 131126 immediately. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Take the product with you to the phone (or a photo of it) so you have all the product details. One of our trained Specialists in Poisons Information will assess all the information and decide what needs to be done next. They may advise on appropriate first aid, and will tell you if you need to go to the GP or to the hospital. 

What happens when you call the Poisons Centre?

Your call to the Poisons Centre will be answered by a pharmacist or medical scientist who is a "Specialist in Poisons Information" (SPI). All SPI's have extra training in poisons information.

So that we can be sure all callers receive the best possible advice, we will need to ask some questions. These will include:

- what happened
- when it occurred
- name of the products involved
- any symptoms so far
- the name and age of the patient
- any medical history
- your location.

The SPI will then look up poisoning references, decide the risk in your particular case, and tell you what to do next. In most cases accidental poisonings can be watched at home. You will be advised what to look for and what to do if symptoms develop. Sometimes a caller is referred immediately to hospital or the GP. If we think it is needed, we can organise an ambulance for you.
As well as taking calls the Poisons Centre helps to identify poisoning trends and products causing poisonings in the community. The Poisons Centre will then alert the appropriate authorities and work with them to reduce the risk to the community.

Every call to the Poisons Centre is reviewed by another SPI within 24 hours. This means 2 people are listening to every poisoning case to make sure you receive the best advice. In some cases we may need to follow up a call to make sure you get the best care. This is why we will ask for your name, phone number and post code. All personal information gathered by the Poisons Centre becomes part of a medical record which is kept confidential.

Call the Poisons Centre on 131126 for all poisoning concerns or medication errors.