Preventing Accidental Overdoses of Acetaminophen: Is Legal Action Required?

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 3.14.11 PM.pngAcetaminophen, which goes by the brand name Tylenol in the United States and the names paracetamol and Panadol in other countries, is one of the most widely consumed over-the-counter drugs. It is the only widely available over-the-counter painkiller that does not belong to the category of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Popular over-the-counter NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve). While millions of people routinely take acetaminophen to relieve minor pain and do not suffer any adverse effects, taking an overdose of acetaminophen can cause acute liver failure and has even led to several deaths; thus, it has been at the center of several product liability lawsuits.  What is most alarming in these cases is that, sometimes, the doses at which the patients suffered adverse consequences were not very much higher than the recommended therapeutic doses. So far, there is no agreement on the best way to prevent accidental overdoses of acetaminophen.

How do Acetaminophen Overdoses Happen?

Acetaminophen is metabolized in the liver. The current recommended dose is not to exceed four grams of acetaminophen per day. That is equivalent to eight tablets of Extra Strength Tylenol in a 24-hour period (usually two pills every six hours). Some acetaminophen-containing OTC drugs, such as Excedrin Migraine, contain almost that much acetaminophen in a single dose, and thus, they are intended to be taken only once per day. At higher doses than that, liver damage can occur. Symptoms of overdose include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain; in many cases, the patient does not seek treatment until the liver damage is advanced, mistaking these symptoms as simply part of his or her illness. One of the reasons that acetaminophen overdoses are as frequent as they are (about 150 cases per year in the United States) is that acetaminophen is an ingredient in many common OTC medicines, including Nyquil and Theraflu. If you take the recommended dose of several of these medicines, you may be taking more acetaminophen than you realize.

For example, Marcus Trunk suffered a wrist injury at his construction job in 1995, and he took Extra Strength Tylenol every day to relieve the pain from his injury while recovering. Shortly thereafter, he developed flu-like symptoms and began taking Theraflu, while continuing his regimen of Extra Strength Tylenol for his injury. Within a few weeks, he had died from liver failure at the age of 23.

How to Prevent Acetaminophen Overdoses

Manufacturers have begun to label acetaminophen-containing OTC medicines more clearly, so that patients do not unwittingly take higher doses than recommended. Consumers should also read the labels on OTC medicines carefully to be sure of how much of each active ingredient they are taking. Some countries have lowered the maximum recommended dose as a precaution.  Some even restrict the amount of acetaminophen one person can buy within a certain period of time, much the way the United States restricts the sale of certain cold and cough medicines with considerable potential for abuse.

Contact Case Barnett About Product Liability Cases

Have you suffered illness or injury because of a faulty or improperly labeled over-the-counter medicine? Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California for a consultation to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.

To Avoid Bicycle Accidents, Carefully Consider the Type and Fit of Your Bike

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 3.12.42 PM.pngAs the old saying goes, accidents happen. Most accidents really are no one’s fault. In such a bicycle-friendly state as California, it is not a surprise that bicycle accidents are fairly common occurrences. In order for a plaintiff who has been injured in a bike accident to have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit, he or she must prove that the accident was the result of someone else’s negligence. For example, if the bike collided with a car, was the driver of the car violating any of California’s laws about sharing the road with bicyclists? If the bike unexpectedly tipped over while the plaintiff was riding it, was it because of a defect in the manufacture of a bike? The burden of proof in any lawsuit rests with the plaintiff, so be prepared to make a case that you were riding your bike according to its intended use and that you had fitted it properly to your body. Even better, making sure that you are buying the correct bike for the places you plan to ride it and that you have adjusted it to fit you well can go a long way in preventing accidents.

Different Types of Bicycles for Different Terrain

To the untrained eye, bikes look quite similar, but once you actually ride one, you notice the differences. Different tire thicknesses and handlebar positions can make for a different riding experience. For example, many of the bikes that you see traveling at a leisurely pace on California’s beach boardwalks are beach cruisers. These bikes are structured so you ride in a normal sitting position; thus, they are steady and easy to steer; their wide “balloon tires” further add to their stability and provide plenty of traction for safe braking. The disadvantage of beach cruisers is that they can not go very fast; if you try to keep up with vehicular traffic on a beach cruiser, you are asking for trouble.  

On the other end of the spectrum are road bikes, which are similar to the racing bikes of competitive athletes. Road bikes have “dropped” handlebars, so you have to lean forward to ride them. They also have narrow tires, which allow for more speed but less stability. Most road bike tires are not recommended for riding on wet surfaces. Bike manufacturers are explicit about which conditions are safe for riding each type of bike.

Adjusting Your Bike for the Safest Ride

Most parts of a bike frame do not move, but you can and should adjust the handlebars, pedals, and saddle to fit you. Adjusting these parts not only prevents accidents but also prevents strain injuries from normal riding. Have an employee of the bike store adjust your bike unless you are a very experienced rider and can do it yourself.

Contact Case Barnett About Bike Accident Lawsuits

Sometimes bicycle accidents happen even if you are doing everything you can to observe safety practices. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California to see if your bicycle accident is the basis for a personal injury lawsuit.