West Virginia Code
The Legislature hereby finds that the current level of scientific information regarding the chemicals, hazardous and noxious substances, biochemical agents, toxic household products and various combinations of them that lead to human poisoning with the added risks associated with criminal activity and clandestine terrorism involving toxic materials and agents requires the immediate availability of accurate information, resources and services to assess toxic threats to the public, prevent human poisoning and assist the general public, the police, firefighters, public health officials, emergency service workers, health care providers and other first responding emergency personnel.
It is the intent of the Legislature that poison control services be provided throughout the state on a consistent and prompt basis by any and all electronic means as well as by a toll free telephone network in order that illness or death that may result from the exposure of an individual to poisonous substances may be avoided. The Legislature also finds that the West Virginia Poison Center located at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, West Virginia University, Charleston Division and operated by West Virginia University meets these criteria and is hereby continued as the West Virginia Poison Center.
The Legislature further finds that effective poison control, not only saves lives and protects the public welfare but also reduces emergency medical costs and is considered an essential emergency service.
(a) The West Virginia Poison Center (hereinafter referred to as "the Center") currently a part of and located at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, West Virginia University, Charleston Division and operated by West Virginia University, is hereby continued as a special service under West Virginia University.
(b) The center shall be certified by the American Association of Poison Centers or other similar organization with the same or higher certification standards, and shall have a director who is a board certified toxicologist.
(c) The West Virginia Poison Center is exempt from temporary budget hiring freezes that may apply to colleges and universities under the Higher Education Policy Commission.
There is hereby created the West Virginia Poison Center Advisory Board (hereinafter referred to as the board). The board shall be composed of eight members. The members include: The Chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission or his or her designee; the Secretary of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety or his or her designee; the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health or his or her designee; the Associate Vice President of West Virginia University, Health Sciences Center, West Virginia University, Charleston, West Virginia, who shall be chairman of the board; the president of the West Virginia Hospital Association or his or her designee; two members appointed by the Director of the Poison Center who shall represent professional health care organizations in this state with extensive experience in public health education, research or administration; and one member appointed by the Director of the Poison Center to represent the general public. All appointed members shall serve terms of four years and may be reappointed. Appointed members of the advisory board shall serve without compensation, but may be reimbursed for any necessary and reasonable expenses incurred in attending meetings on the same basis as members of the Legislature are reimbursed for expenses.
The board shall provide advice and assistance to the director of the center in providing services as set out in this article. The board shall meet not less than two times each year on the call of the chair. Not later than July 1, of each year, the board shall prepare an annual report for the calendar year for submission to the Governor and the Legislature. The report shall include an analysis of the activities of the center and any recommendations for improvement the board may deem necessary or appropriate.
The center shall provide:
(1) Twenty-four hour, seven days a week emergency telephone management and treatment referral of victims of poisoning to include determining whether treatment can be accomplished at the scene of the incident or transport to an emergency treatment or other facility is required and carrying out telephone follow-up to families and other individuals to assure that adequate care is provided;
(2) Emergency telephone treatment recommendations for all types of poisonings, chemical exposures, drug overdoses and exposure to weapons of mass destruction. This information shall be provided to medical and nonmedical providers;
(3) Telephone follow-up for hospitalized and nonhospitalized patients to assess progress and recommend additional treatment as necessary;
(4) Surveillance of human poison exposures. This includes those related chemicals, drugs, biologicals and weapons of mass destruction;
(5) Community education in poison prevention; and
(6) Education in the recognition and management of poisonings for health care providers.
The Director of the West Virginia Poison Center:
(1) Shall ensure that the center is certified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers and remains in good standing with that organization;
(2) Is authorized to enter into agreements with other state agencies or departments, with public or private colleges or universities, schools of medicine or hospitals for the use of laboratories, personnel, equipment and other fixtures, facilities or services;
(3) May accept federal funds granted by the United States Congress or by executive order of the President of the United States as well as gifts, grants, endowments and donations from individuals and private organizations or foundations for all or any of the functions of the center;
(4) Develop and advocate for an annual budget for the center;
(5) Maintain a central office at the current location of the center; and
(6) Employ adequate professional and technical employees to meet the requirements of this article.
Neither the director nor any employee of the center staff shall be considered a member of any patient treatment team, or acting in concert with any responsible treating entity, including emergency personnel, hospital or clinic employees, or private medical practitioners of any health care treatment team.
The center and its employees are immune from any and all liability arising from the good faith provision of services provided under the provisions of this article. The immunity granted by this section is in addition to any other immunity now existing or granted under any other provision of this code or by common law.