Evaluation of an Intravenous Acetaminophen Protocol in the Emergency Department.

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BACKGROUND: Acute pain is a leading reason for Emergency Department (ED) evaluation, accounting for nearly half of all ED visits. Therefore, providing effective non-opioid analgesics in the ED is critical. Oral acetaminophen (APAP) is commonly administered in the ED but is limited to patients tolerating oral intake. Intravenous (IV) APAP provides significant pain reduction parenterally. The purpose of this quality assessment project was to evaluate the frequency of opioid use in patients receiving IV APAP, the safety of IV APAP, and compliance with an ED IV APAP protocol.

METHODS: This study included all patients who received IV APAP in the ED of a tertiary care, level I trauma center, during a three-month period. The protocol required ED patients to be NPO (nil per os), 18 years or older, and administered with a single 1000 mg dose. The adverse reactions within 24 hours post-IV APAP, ED length of stay (LOS), and opioid administration within four hours post-IV APAP were assessed.

RESULTS: Ninety-four patients received IV APAP. All patients received a 1000 mg dose. One patient received more than one dose, but this patient had a 22-hour ED LOS. Two patients received oral medications within one hour of IV APAP (one received an antacid, and the other received carbamazepine and lamotrigine). An opioid was administered to 22 of the 94 (23.4%) patients during the four-hour protocol period. There were no reports of adverse reactions.

CONCLUSIONS: The results show excellent compliance with the protocol. IV APAP was safe and well-tolerated. Notably, most patients did not receive an opioid within four hours of IV APAP. IV APAP can be safely and effectively utilized as an analgesic and lessen ED opioid use.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine Faculty, Department of Emergency Medicine Residents, Toxicology Division, Fellows and Residents, USF-LVHN SELECT Program, USF-LVHN SELECT Program Faculty, USF-LVHN SELECT Program Students, Department of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy Faculty

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