Nisha Sharma, MD
Nisha Sharma, MD

Poster 538 Trends in Incidence, Management, and Outcomes of Acetaminophen Overdose in the United States

Author Insight from Nisha Sharma, MD, New York Medical College/Westchester Medical Center

What’s new here and important for clinicians?

Our study investigates the significant concern of acetaminophen overdose in the United States.  We would like to highlight the following important findings of our analysis:

1) The number of hospital admissions for acetaminophen overdose has decreased over the study period. This is likely to be secondary to public health measures directed toward increasing awareness of acetaminophen related toxicity (Figure 2).

2) The in-hospital mortality rate of around 2% shows that acetaminophen overdose continues to contribute significantly towards mortality despite resources of modern medicine.

3) While rates of suicidal overdose decreased (63.5% overall), accidental overdose rates (20% overall) increased and is a concerning finding.

4) More significantly, the incidence of acute liver failure has increased over the study period. This finding is distressing and calls for drastic measures toward early patient and physician recognition of this morbid condition, and development of specific therapeutic measures beyond current treatments.

What do patients need to know?

Acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Patients should be cautious when using medications containing acetaminophen. These include various analgesics such as Tylenol, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, etc. Accidental overdose of such drugs has increased significantly in the United States from 2008 to 2012. Early signs of liver damage may include flu-like symptoms, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and darkening of urine. Immediate medical attention is needed after accidental or suicidal ingestion of doses that exceed safe limits or if the above symptoms are noted. Acute liver failure requiring an emergent liver transplant and death are known to occur with acetaminophen overdose.

Read Abstract

See Figures 1-5

Author Contact Nisha Sharma, MD, New York Medical College/Westchester Medical Center

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