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Emergency department patient knowledge concerning acetaminophen (paracetamol) in over-the-counter and prescription analgesics


Objectives: This study was designed to evaluate patient knowledge of the acetaminophen (paracetamol) content of commonly used pain medications and the maximum daily recommended dose of acetaminophen.

Methods: A prospective, convenience sample of emergency department patients were enrolled. Data were recorded using a standardised questionnaire over 4 months.

Results: 1009 patients were enrolled. 492 patients (49%) did not know if Tylenol® contained acetaminophen (paracetamol). The majority (66–90%) of patients did not know if Lortab®, Vicodin®, Percocet®, non-aspirin pain reliever, ibuprofen, Motrin™, or Advil™ contained acetaminophen. 568 patients (56%) reported not knowing the maximum daily dose of acetaminophen and only 71 patients (7%) reported the correct daily dose.

Conclusions: Patient knowledge of the acetaminophen content of commonly used analgesic medications and its maximum recommended daily dose is limited. This may contribute to unintentional repeated supratherapeutic ingestion (RSTI) of acetaminophen, or overdose.

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