Paracetamol misuse prompts health board warning

The Southern District Health Board has warned GPs about paracetamol after two young children were admitted to Dunedin Hospital's emergency department.

The two children, both under 2, were given the stronger strength paracetamol, for children 6 and over.

The warning has been given in the board's monthly newsletter for GPs.

"Please reiterate to parents the correct strength of paracetamol for [the child's] age group and that recommended doses should not be exceeded."

DHB consultant paediatrician Prof Barry Taylor said parents needed to be vigilant, and warned that doctors were not infallible.

"I think [parents] should be encouraged to read the labels of the medication carefully.

"They often contain dosing recommendations for different ages, and if this differs from what their doctor has prescribed, they should query their doctor about the dose - even doctors can make a mistake."

The dangers for young children of paracetamol overdosing was highlighted in June, when it was reported that two children under 5 had required liver transplants at Auckland's Starship Hospital because of overdosing.

Dunedin pharmacist Chin Loh said the warning needed to be extended to pharmacists and other health workers, because paracetamol for children was available over the counter, as well as by prescription.


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