, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 4-11

The Clinical Management of Acetaminophen Poisoning in a Community Hospital System: Factors Associated with Hospital Length of Stay


Acetaminophen (APAP) overdose is the most common pharmaceutical poisoning. The objective of this study was to examine the management of patients admitted for treatment of APAP overdose. Factors impacting hospital length of stay (LOS) were of particular interest. This was a retrospective cohort study of patients admitted to Kaiser Permanente Northern California hospitals for APAP overdose from July 2003 through December 2007. Medical records were abstracted for patient demographic data, key factors of overdose, California Poison Control System (CPCS) contact, data regarding hospital course, transfer for liver transplantation, and death. Four hundred thirty-five patients were included. The mean hospital LOS was 66.5 h (95% CI 62.1, 71.0). Four patients (0.9%) died. Eight patients (1.8%) were transferred for liver transplantation, but all of these patients later recovered without transplant. Of 289 cases eligible for placement on the Rumack–Matthew nomogram (acute ingestion with known time of ingestion <24 h and normal liver enzymes), 161 (55.7%) had APAP levels above the “200” line and 77 (26.6%) fell below the “150” line. CPCS was contacted in 295 cases (67.8%). Mean LOS in cases with CPCS consultation was 61.9 h (95% CI 57.2, 66.5 h) versus 76.3 h (95% CI 66.6, 86.0 h) in those without. LOS in cases treated with IV NAC was 67.1 h (95% CI 57.7, 76.5 h) versus 66.4 h (95% CI 61.2, 71.5 h) in cases treated with oral NAC. Many patients admitted for APAP overdose had serum APAP levels below the minimum toxicity level. Use of IV NAC did not impact hospital LOS. CPCS consultation appeared to decrease mean hospital LOS.

Funding source

Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefits Research Program Grant 2008