Paracetamol overdose
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Paracetamol overdose

Victoria Hartley Information Specialist, National Poisons Information Service (London)

Victoria Hartley emphasises the importance of diagnostics and accurate history taking in treating patients who present with paracetamol toxicity

Paracetamol is an analgesic and antipyretic agent that became available in the UK in 1956. Since then it has replaced other drugs, such as aspirin, as the popular choice for pain relief and is now the most widely used analgesic in the UK. An estimated 100,000 million tablets containing paracetamol are sold over the counter and prescribed each year (Hawton et al 2001). Indicated for the relief of mild to moderate pain and fever, it is generally available as 500mg tablets, although liquid preparations of varying strengths (usually 120mg/5ml and 250mg/5ml) are available for children. Paediatric tablets (120mg and 250mg) are also available. Paracetamol can also be found in combination with a variety of other drugs, including decongestants, caffeine, antihistamines and other analgesics (such as aspirin and codeine). In North America paracetamol is known as acetaminophen.

Emergency Nurse. 10, 5, 17-24. doi: 10.7748/en.10.5.17.s13

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