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Prehospital use of paracetamol among children attending the accident and emergency department


Objectives: To identify patterns of prehospital administration of paracetamol to children who were perceived to be feverish by their carers.

Methods: A prospective cohort study of carers of children attending a paediatric accident and emergency (A&E) department. Carers of children completed a questionnaire to identify domestic patterns of paracetamol use. Data were collected on temperature of the child in the A&E department, administration of antipyretics in the A&E department, diagnosis, and disposal from the A&E department.

Results: Seventy five adults attending the A&E department consented to involvement. Sixty five of the children were feverish on arrival in the A&E department. Twenty one children (32.3%) had not received paracetamol before attending. There was a significant relation between knowledge of the antipyretic properties of paracetamol and administration (χ2=5.0, p<0.05). There was a significant correlation between fever and administration of paracetamol in the A&E department (χ2=23.7, p<0.01), however, 15 feverish patients (24.6%) were not treated.

Conclusions: Most carers administer paracetamol appropriately in the prehospital setting. Administration correlates significantly with knowledge of its benefits. There is scope for education of carers and A&E department staff in the in the appropriate use of antipyretics such as paracetamol.

  • paracetamol
  • fever
  • antipyretic
  • education

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