While every parent may assume they know what acetaminophen is, some parents are surprised to learn that the medicine also goes by different names such as Tylenol, paracetamol, phenacitin, just to name a few. In fact, acetaminophen is found in hundreds of drugs that line medicine cabinets in many homes, such as Nyquil, Robitussin, Vicks, and Theraflu, among others.
While acetaminophen can help relieve aches, pains and fevers in infants and children, it can also cause harm to children if too much medication is ingested. Because acetaminophen is the active ingredient in many over-the-counter medications, children often take multiple medications that contain acetaminophen—ultimately, exceeding the recommended dosages.
Tylenol May Not Be as Safe as You Think
In most families Tylenol is thought of as a safe drug to treat just about anything. However, it can be deadly, especially for children who take large doses of acetaminophen, because the liver cannot process too much acetaminophen. When acetaminophen dosing errors happen, the liver cannot remove the toxic byproducts produced during metabolism, causing a buildup of toxic levels that the liver cannot neutralize. Sadly, the result is liver damage.When a child’s liver cells die due to too much acetaminophen, the results can be fatal. Recently, a news story was released about a five-month-old Louisiana girl who had suffered from a fever. Her parents had taken her to Opelousas General Hospital for care and were sent away with a note that a nurse scribbled, suggesting a dose of one teaspoon of Tylenol every four hours. Tragically, the little girl died due to an accidental overdose of acetaminophen that occurred because two versions of Tylenol for young children were sold.
Unfortunately, the nurse in this situation failed to tell the parents which specific version of Tylenol they should buy. Not only did the nurse make a huge mistake, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to intervene—allowing two types of Tylenol for young children to be sold for years—knowing many others had mixed up Infant’s and Children’s Tylenol.
Dangers of Too Much Acetaminophen
Sadly, 20 children died of acetaminophen toxicity between 2000 and 2009, according to the FDA. Because manufacturers didn’t switch to a single pediatric concentration and because the FDA didn’t make them, innocent children suffered acetaminophen-related liver damage due to dosage mix-ups. Finally, the stronger dosage of the infant drug was removed from stores in the U.S., but that came too late for many families.
While the two medications cannot be confused for each other any longer, acetaminophen dosing errors can still occur that could lead to liver damage. If a doctor prescribes an adult version of the drug or a nurse administers too much acetaminophen and your son or daughter suffers, you need to speak with a skilled medication error attorney at Kennedy Hodges. Call 888-526-7616 for a free initial consultation, and request a free copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.