In 1982, Drs. Leo Sioris and Rick Kingston, two Minnesota PharmD’s and faculty members at the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy, were awarded the first Minnesota Department of Health Grant to develop and fund the Minnesota Regional Poison Center at St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center (SPRMC) in St. Paul, Minnesota. With the Center’s opening coinciding with the cyanide tainting of Tylenol, sky high call volumes led to immediate staffing and funding challenges. The Health Departments directive was to develop other sources of funding or close the newly founded Center after the first year of its operation. The two faculty members went about exploring a number of different business models, eventually settling on developing fee-based services for industry and governments. The newly founded service was called Hazard Information Services (HIS). The Minnesota Regional Poison Center provided toll-free, telephone-based poison information center services to the public and to health care professionals in Minnesota. Hazard Information Services offered 24/7, telephone-based health and safety information programs to clients worldwide in business, industry and government who use, manufacture, or distribute chemical products. The business model of HIS was to provide fee-based 24/7 poison center services directly to industry to enhance product stewardship efforts and to provide and innovative solution to industry and goveernment entities to enhance compliance with newly enacted “Right-To-Know” regulations.
To assist product manufacturers in providing immediate medical response to customers exposed to their products, or to answer health and safety related questions aimed at prevention while providing post-market surveillance and consulting services, the poison center model was expanded to enhance product safety. By 1994, Sioris and Kingston grew Hazard Information Services to over 230 clients throughout the United Sates and world-wide, and received over 140,000 calls to the Center annually.
By 1996, Sioris and Kingston grew the Minnesota Regional Poison Center/Hazard Information Services to be the largest industry-focused poison control center in the world, providing a more collaborative work model with the industry and businesses, all the while making products and workplaces safer. There was now an adverse event system in place where consumers could get the information they needed in an emergency situation, and a system where a company could manage their exposures in a responsible manner while having access to the data ensuring the safety of their products. The Minnesota Regional Poison Center/HIS became a neutral and credible third party that consumers trusted with health care information, and which manufacturers trusted to assist them with caring for their customers while enhancing their stewardship/surveillance efforts.
With the same goal and business model in mind as they had in 1982 of collaborating in a positive way with industries, Sioris and Kingston, along with John Gualtieri, Dean Filandrinos, Lynn Hovda and Stephen Borron, co-founded SafetyCall International, PLLC, in 2004.SafetyCall is now the world’s largest 24/7 Adverse Event Call Center, and a leader in Adverse Event Management and Post-Market Surveillance services. Our mission is to provide immediate, around-the-clock access to clear and trusted health, safety, and medical information to clients and their customers. Since its inception, SafetyCall and its staff of 85 employees have served clients ranging in industries from dietary supplements to institutional and industrial products to animal health products. In 2012, the call center took in more than 165,000 adverse event and information calls.