Treatment of Paracetamol Overdose

Objectives: To assess the numbers of paracetamol overdose‐related hospital admissions and deaths in Australia since 2007–08, and the overdose size of intentional paracetamol overdoses since 2004.

Design, setting: Retrospective analysis of data on paracetamol‐related exposures, hospital admissions, and deaths from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD; 2007–08 to 2016–17), the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre (NSWPIC; 2004–2017), and the National Coronial Information System (NCIS; 2007–08 to 2016–17).

Participants: People who took overdoses of paracetamol in single ingredient preparations.

Main outcome measures: Annual numbers of reported paracetamol‐related poisonings, hospital admissions, and deaths; number of tablets taken in overdoses.

Results: The NHMD included 95 668 admissions with paracetamol poisoning diagnoses (2007–08 to 2016–17); the annual number of cases increased by 44.3% during the study period (3.8% per year; 95% CI, 3.2–4.6%). Toxic liver disease was documented for 1816 of these patients; the annual number increased by 108% during the study period (7.7% per year; 95% CI, 6.0–9.5%). The NSWPIC database included 22 997 reports of intentional overdose with paracetamol (2004–2017); the annual number increased by 77.0% during the study period (3.3% per year; 95% CI, 2.5–4.2%). The median number of tablets taken increased from 15 (IQR, 10–24) in 2004 to 20 (IQR, 10–35) in 2017. Modified release paracetamol ingestion report numbers increased 38% between 2004 and 2017 (95% CI, 30–47%). 126 in‐hospital deaths were recorded in the NHMD, and 205 deaths (in‐hospital and out of hospital) in the NCIS, with no temporal trends.

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