Intravenous paracetamol — waste not, want not: a retrospective audit on the appropriate use of intravenous paracetamol at Universitas Academic Hospital Complex—Bloemfontein

  • Editorial Office
  • N J Procter University of the Free State
  • G Lamacraft University of the Free State
  • G Joubert University of the Free State
Keywords: acetaminophen, analgesia, appropriate, audit, intravenous, pain, paracetamol, pyrexia

Abstract

Background: Paracetamol can be given both orally and intravenously (IV) with similar clinical efficacy, but the IV formulation is 360 times more expensive. IV paracetamol is therefore only recommended when the oral route is not available. This study investigated whether IV paracetamol was being used appropriately and whether there had been a change in prescribing patterns between 2008 and 2015 after the introduction and update of a prescribing protocol at an academic hospital complex in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Methods: A retrospective comparative audit of patient files was undertaken. The prescribing and administration habits of IV paracetamol were compared for two consecutive months, seven years apart, including 88 and 83 patients, respectively, who had received IV paracetamol. Results: IV paracetamol was administered appropriately in 37.5% of patients in 2008 and in 43.4% of patients in 2015 (p = 0.43). There was an improvement in the duration that IV paracetamol was prescribed for, which decreased from a median two days in 2008 to one day (p < 0.01) in 2015. In total, 55 (32.4%) patients had a concomitant oral and IV paracetamol prescription, of which 37 (21.6%) patients also received concomitant paracetamol administration. Twenty patients exceeded the 24-hour maximum dose. Seventeen patients weighed less than 40 kg; six of these patients (three paediatric and three adult) did not receive the correct weight adjusted dose of paracetamol, 15 mg/kg, resulting in excessive doses of paracetamol being administered (21–32.3 mg/kg). Conclusions: Patients are receiving IV paracetamol when the oral route is available; this is an unnecessary waste of money. Excessive doses of paracetamol were administered due to concomitant oral and IV paracetamol prescription and administration, and a failure to calculate dose of paracetamol according to body weight in low body weight patients. Further remedial interventions are therefore required. (Full text available online at www.medpharm.tandfonline.com/ojaa) South Afr J Anaesth Analg 2018; DOI: 10.1080/22201181.2018.1426208

Author Biographies

N J Procter, University of the Free State
Department of Anaesthesiology University of the Free State Bloemfontein
G Lamacraft, University of the Free State
Department of Anaesthesiology University of the Free State Bloemfontein
G Joubert, University of the Free State
Department of Biostatistics University of the Free State Bloemfontein
Published
2018-03-20
Section
Research Articles