ParacetamolPosted: August 25, 2012
This is one of those posts where I know I’m going to have to walk a tightrope and think about what I say very carefully to avoid causing upset or offence, so if you are upset by what’s in this entry I can only apologise as that was not my intention.
The other day while reading the South Wales Evening Post I came across this story,about a local man who has started a campaign to make paracetamol a prescription only medication following the death of his 20 year old daughter following an accidental overdose.
Now it goes without saying that this is an extremely sad story, as it’s tragic that such a young life has ended, even more so as she leaves behind a young child.
I can appreciate that for her father it has been an immensely difficult time and understand his need to try and ensure that his daughter’s death achieves something, however, I find myself in disagreement with his campaign.
Paracetamol can be dangerous, even fatal as in this case, but I can not see that his proposal should be passed.
As it stands here in the UK you can buy packs of 16 tablets and can apparently by two packs at a time, I didn’t know this as I tend to buy just 1 pack when I need some. Anyway, this is an attempt to curb overdose, whether intentional or otherwise.
It’s not a perfect system as you could buy packs in different shops and end up with tons of them.
But here’s the thing, the system kinda works as is.
I mean, it’s not going to deter the truly suicidal but all the faff in getting the tablets might serve to give enough time for “impulsive” suicides to calm down. By this I mean those who react quickly under emotional stress and decide to do it on a whim.
My Dad told me once that when he worked A&E these were fairly common, particularly among young women following arguments/break ups with partners. Almost without thinking they’d throw back some pills and almost as quickly call an ambulance. Of course, unfortunately some wouldn’t make it, as apparently there is no pain or discomfort with paracetamol poisoning until near the end.
With accidental ODs the danger is present but the manufacturers do ensure that clear instructions are on every box and once this has been done the responsibility lies with the user.
I understand that the young lady at the heart of this story was experiencing severe pain following a medical procedure and would have used paracetamol to combat this.
Here I feel she made the error that unfortunately proved fatal, she exceeded the recommended daily dose, probably due to the pain levels she was experiencing. This is something which according to the article her family don’t dispute;
Her family said she had only been taking only a few pills more than the recommended daily dose
And there’s the problem, it was a decision made by the patient to exceed the limit, despite the warnings and guidelines on the packet. This is not an issue of reckless drug distribution by the company and comes down to personal responsibility.
The packaging give the instructions for the medication and in this instant the lady chose to ignore them. Why would the act of having to get a doctor to sign off on them change things?
The Doctor’s instructions regarding dosages would have been exactly the same as those you find on the box. If she chose to ignore them from one source why would she heed the advice from another?
It’s a sad case, and there are ways it could have been avoided (a change to a stronger form of pain relief, or different decisions being made) but to change the rules on paracetamol seems foolhardy.
Firstly it will cause massive inconvenience to many, as I stated when I need some I can just walk into a shop and buy some, if available only by prescription I would have to make an appointment to see a doctor, which would also waste a lot more of doctors’ time and NHS resources.
I understand why the father is doing this campaign but I fear he his mistaken and his statements regarding how dangerous it is ignore the crucial fact- if taken correctly paracetamol is safe.
Again apologies if this has upset anyone.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO