Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Overuse of Over-The-Counter Analgesics Significant In Emergency Patients

From ACEP, via Press Release:

Many people coming to emergency departments overuse over-the- counter pain medications, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen, which can lead to serious medical problems, such as peptic ulcer, gastritis, and liver injury, as reported in the September issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine ("Overuse of Over-the-Counter Analgesics by Emergency Department Patients").

"Pain is the most common complaint among patients seeking care in an emergency department," said lead study author Kennon Heard, MD, of the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center. "Because many emergency patients have limited access to health care, they may have no alternatives to over-the-counter medications for treatment of pain, and therefore are at risk of overusing these products."

The study surveyed 546 patients, 307 of whom reported using a pain or cold medication containing ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen or aspirin in the 72 hours before coming to the emergency department. Principal reasons patients gave for using over-the-counter medications were musculoskeletal pain, headache, and cold symptoms. More than half (53 percent) reported taking acetaminophen, 34 percent reported taking ibuprofen, 17 percent reported taking aspirin, and 7.8 percent reported taking naproxen.

Of the surveyed patients, 37 (6 percent) reported exceeding the manufacturer's recommended daily dose at some point in the three days preceding their visit.
The majority of overusers (23) exceeded the recommended dosages of ibuprofen, followed by acetaminophen (nine) and naproxen (five).


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