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2.5 Million Hospital Patients Subjected to Acetaminophen Overdose, Study Finds

Filed May 25th, 2012 Laurie

Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia say about 2.5 million patients admitted to hospitals may receive excessive doses of acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol.

Patients who take more than one drug containing acetaminophen often consume more of the drug than the recommended 4 grams per day. Two tablets of extra-strength Tylenol contains 1 gram of acetaminophen, which is typically used to treat headaches and fevers.

Over the course of two years, researchers led by Dr. Jesse Civan examined 46,000 hospital admissions and the medications patients were given. They found that on least one day of hospitalization, about 1,100 patients received more than 4 grams of acetaminophen in the form of Tylenol, Percocet, and other similar drugs.

They also assessed the effects of acetaminophen on patients’ livers and found that only a small minority were given a liver assessment test to check its function. Investigators say doctors typically only perform the test when they suspect the patient has actually developed a problem.

Civan and his colleagues concluded that patients need more acetaminophen education safety, particularly so they know how to use the drug properly once they are discharged from the hospital.
The study was presented Monday at the Digestive Disease Week meeting in San Diego.

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