• Intravenous versus oral paracetamol in a UK ambulance service: a case control study

      Charlton, Karl; Limmer, Matthew; Moore, Hayley (2020-06-01)
      Abstract published with permission Objectives: To determine the effectiveness of intravenous versus oral paracetamol (acetaminophen) in the management of acute pain in the out-of-hospital setting. Methods: We extracted ambulance electronic patient care records for all patients who received 1 g intravenous paracetamol throughout January 2019, and case matched these by sex and age with consecutive patients who received 1 g oral paracetamol over the same time period. Eligible for inclusion were all patients aged ≥ 18 who received 1 g paracetamol for acute pain and who were transported to the emergency department (ED). The primary outcome was the mean reduction in pain score using the numeric rating scale (NRS), with a reduction of 2 or more accepted as clinically significant. Results: 80 care records were eligible for analysis; 40 patients received intravenous and 40 patients received oral paracetamol. The mean age of both groups was 54 years (± 3 years) and 67.5% (n = 54) were female. Patients receiving intravenous paracetamol had a clinically significant mean (SD) improved pain score compared to those receiving oral paracetamol, 2.02 (1.64) versus 0.75 (1.76), respectively [p = 0.0013]. 13/40 (32.5%) patients who received intravenous paracetamol saw an improved pain score of ≥ 2 compared to 8/40 (20%) who received oral paracetamol. No patients received additional analgesia or reported any adverse symptoms. Abdominal pain, infection and trauma were the most common causes of pain in both groups. Conclusion: Our study suggests that intravenous paracetamol is more effective than oral paracetamol when managing acute pain in the out-of-hospital setting. Our findings support further investigation of the role of paracetamol in paramedic practice using more robust methods.