When the Antidote Causes Harm: Preventing Errors with Intravenous Acetylcysteine
Approximately 4500 Canadians are hospitalized each year because of acetaminophen overdose. Acetylcysteine (also referred to as N-acetylcysteine or NAC) is effective as an antidote for acetaminophen poisoning and indicated to prevent or lessen hepatic injury which may occur following the ingestion of a potentially hepatotoxic quantity of acetaminophen. Although intravenous (IV) infusion has been widely accepted as a safe mode of administration for acetylcysteine, serious errors have occurred, leading to life-threatening conditions and/or death.
• TABLE 2: Contributing Factors with Corresponding Recommendations from a Multi-Incident Analysis