Survey of patient knowledge related to acetaminophen recognition, dosing, and toxicity
Lori B. Hornsby, PharmD, BCPS; Heather P. Whitley, PharmD; E. Kelly Hester, PharmD, BCPS; Thompson Melissa, MD; Amy Donaldson, PharmD, BCPS
J Am Pharm Assoc (2003) 2010;50:485-489. doi:10.1331/JAPhA.2010.08175


Objective  To assess patient knowledge regarding acetaminophen dosing, toxicity, and recognition of acetaminophen-containing products.

Design  Descriptive, nonexperimental, cross-section1al study.

Setting  Alabama, January 2007 to February 2008.

Patients  284 patients at four outpatient medical facilities.

Intervention  12-item investigator-administered questionnaire.

Main outcome measures  Degree of patient knowledge regarding acetaminophen safety, dosing recommendations, toxicity, alternative names and abbreviations, and products.

Results  Two-thirds of the 284 patients completing the survey reported current or recent use of pain, cold, or allergy medication. Of these, 25% reported knowing the active ingredient. Of patients, 46% and 13% knew that “acetaminophen” and “APAP,” respectively, were synonymous with “Tylenol.” Several patients (12%) believed that ingesting a harmful amount of acetaminophen was difficult or impossible. One-third of patients correctly identified the maximum daily dose, 10% reported a dose greater than 4 g, 25% were unsure of the dose, and 7% were unsure whether a maximum dose existed. One-half recognized liver damage as the primary toxicity. Results were similar between acetaminophen users and nonusers.

Conclusion  Deficiencies were found in patient knowledge regarding acetaminophen recognition, dosing, and potential for toxicity. The development of effective educational initiatives is warranted to ensure patient awareness and limit the potential for acetaminophen overdose.

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