The effect of recalling paracetamol on hospital admissions for poisoning in Western Australia

Kisely, Stephen R., Lawrence, David and Preston, Neil J. (2003) The effect of recalling paracetamol on hospital admissions for poisoning in Western Australia. Medical Journal of Australia, 178 2: 72-74.

Author Kisely, Stephen R.
Lawrence, David
Preston, Neil J.
Title The effect of recalling paracetamol on hospital admissions for poisoning in Western Australia
Journal name Medical Journal of Australia   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0025-729X
Publication date 2003-01-20
Sub-type Article (original research)
Volume 178
Issue 2
Start page 72
End page 74
Total pages 3
Place of publication Strawberry Hills, NSW, Australia
Publisher Australasian Medical Publishing
Language eng
Subject 111709 Health Care Administration
Formatted abstract
To assess the effect of two recalls of paracetamol products on rates of intentional and unintentional overdoses of paracetamol in all age groups, as well as any effect on poisoning by other agents.

A before-and-after epidemiological study using data from the Western Australian Health Services Research Linked Database, which records all admissions to public and private hospitals throughout the State.

Main outcome measures:

Hospital admissions in Western Australia for poisonings with all agents, including paracetamol and other over-the-counter analgesics.

There were 11 752 admissions for poisoning from 1996 to 2001. Paracetamol was the primary poisoning agent in 2266 (19.3%) admissions, aspirin in 120 (1%) and ibuprofen in 277 (2%). There was a significant decrease in the admission rate for paracetamol poisoning when sales were restricted in 2000 (rate ratio, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.68–0.99) compared with the same period in other years. There was no increase in poisoning with other agents at this time. However, admissions for paracetamol overdose also showed a large random variation that tended to obscure any effect.

Our study highlights the need to control for random as well as seasonal fluctuations in admission rates, and for restrictions on paracetamol sales to last for several months across all retail outlets. Limiting access to paracetamol may reduce paracetamol poisonings without a coincident increase in the use of other agents.

Keyword Paracetamol
Hospital admissions
Epidemiological study
Western Australian Health Services Research Linked Database
Western Australia
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Publications
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Created: Wed, 18 Nov 2009, 12:17:47 EST