SDW news brief: Hospitalized patients receive excessive doses of acetaminophen

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, November 15, 2012

More than 6% of hospital patients received acetaminophen in excess of the recommended 4 g per day, while approximately 22% of patients over the age of 65 exceeded the recommended limit of 3 g per day, according to a study published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers review electronic health records of nearly 14,500 patients from two hospitals who were admitted between June 1, 2010 and August 31, 2010 and who received acetaminophen during their hospitalization. Data was pulled from patients’ acetaminophen administration records, including drug name, dose, administration time, and hospital units, demographic data, diagnoses, and results from liver function tests.

While none of the patients suffered liver failure due to exceeding recommended dosages of acetaminophen, many had high levels of a particular liver-related enzyme. Patients in intensive care and surgical unit were most likely to be administered excessive amounts of the drug, possibly since acetaminophen is an ingredient in stronger narcotics.

View the findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Source: Reuters

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