Trends in rates of acetaminophen-related adverse events in the United States

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Abstract

Purpose

The goal of this study is to summarize trends in rates of adverse events attributable to acetaminophen use, including hepatotoxicity and mortality.

Methods

A comprehensive analysis of data from three national surveillance systems estimated rates of acetaminophen-related events identified in different settings, including calls to poison centers (2008–2012), emergency department visits (2004–2012), and inpatient hospitalizations (1998–2011). Rates of acetaminophen-related events were calculated per setting, census population, and distributed drug units.

Results

Rates of poison center calls with acetaminophen-related exposures decreased from 49.5/1000 calls in 2009 to 43.5/1000 calls in 2012. Rates of emergency department visits for unintentional acetaminophen-related adverse events decreased from 58.0/1000 emergency department visits for adverse drug events in 2009 to 50.2/1000 emergency department visits in 2012. Rates of hospital inpatient discharges with acetaminophen-related poisoning decreased from 119.8/100 000 hospitalizations in 2009 to 108.6/100 000 hospitalizations in 2011. After 2009, population rates of acetaminophen-related events per 1 million census population decreased for poison center calls and hospitalizations, while emergency department visit rates remained stable. However, when accounting for drug sales, the rate of acetaminophen-related events (per 1 million distributed drug units) increased after 2009. Prior to 2009, the rates of acetaminophen-related hospitalizations had been slowly increasing (p-trend = 0.001).

Conclusions

Acetaminophen-related adverse events continue to be a public health burden. Future studies with additional time points are necessary to confirm trends and determine whether recent risk mitigation efforts had a beneficial impact on acetaminophen-related adverse events. Published 2015. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

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