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What Patients Need to Know about Acetaminophen
Date:11/12/2012

BOSTON, Nov. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The misuse of acetaminophen is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the West. Informed patients and clearly labeled prescription bottles are necessary to avoid accidental overdoses. Patients with new prescriptions often are unaware of the presence of acetaminophen in their new drug nor do they recall their prescribers' advice concerning acetaminophen, according to researchers at Northwestern University who examined the behavior of 249 patients who were either discharged from a hospital emergency room or recently visited an outpatient pharmacy.

Only 25.7 percent of patients could recall counseling concerning acetaminophen from their prescribers. According to Dr. Marina Serper of The Health Literacy and Learning Program at Northwestern University, "When prescribing an acetaminophen-containing medication, healthcare providers should clearly state the active ingredients in the medication. Providers should explain what constitutes the daily maximum dose of this medication and how it may or may not be combined with other common over the counter acetaminophen preparations."

Researchers asked patients to keep a diary of the medications they had taken in the first seven days after starting their new prescription. All patients were interviewed after seven days to determine the presence of warning labels on bottles, the total amount and sources of acetaminophen taken, patients' knowledge of active ingredients in prescriptions, and patient recall of any communication concerning acetaminophen with the prescriber.

The study also addressed what Dr. Serper refers to as, "the lack of uniformity of prescription labeling." Only 26.9 percent of patients studied correctly identified acetaminophen as an ingredient in their prescription medication. Researchers reported 10.8 percent of those patients studied "double-dipped," meaning that they took their new prescription along with another product containing ac
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SOURCE American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD)
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