Home > Ease of access is a principal factor in the frequency of paracetamol overdose.

O'Rourke, M and Garland, MR and McCormick, PA (2002) Ease of access is a principal factor in the frequency of paracetamol overdose. Irish Journal of Medical Science , 171 , (3) , pp. 148-150.

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BACKGROUND: In Ireland, 30% of non-fatal overdoses involve paracetamol.

AIMS: To determine how and where patients obtained paracetamol, to assess awareness of toxicity and examine the relationship between dose and suicidal intent.

METHODS: A prospective study of patients admitted following a paracetamol overdose recording their reasons for using paracetamol, their knowledge of its toxicity and their suicidal intent scale (SIS).

RESULTS: Of 100 patients, 66% obtained paracetamol in non-pharmacy outlets, 82% cited ease of availability as the reason, 55% were aware of its toxicity, 31% of liver damage and 68% did not read the warning on packets. The mean number of tablets taken was 51.3 for males and 37.2 for females (p < 0.01). Males presented later than females for medical attention (12.5 versus seven hours [p < 0.02]) and more males than females took alcohol (p < 0.03). The mean SIS score was 14.71 for males and 12.38 for females. There was a significant correlation between the SIS and the amount of paracetamol consumed (r = 0.28; p < 0.01).

CONCLUSION: The majority obtained paracetamol in local shops or at home. Knowledge of toxicity and the need for early antidote was poor. There was a significant relationship between suicidal intent and number of tablets consumed. Limiting availability could reduce number of overdoses

Item Type:Article
Date:October 2002
Page Range:pp. 148-150
Publisher:Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland
Keywords:acetaminophen, AOD poisoning, chemical poisoning, Ireland, suicidal behavior
Accession Number:HRB 4043 (Electronic Only)
Subjects:J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Health related prevention > Health information and education > Suicide prevention
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
P Demography, epidemiology, and history > Population dynamics > Substance related mortality / death
E Concepts in biomedical areas > Substance by legal status > Prescription drug (medicine / medication)

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