Paracetamol is an effective, simple analgesic that is well tolerated by adults and children at therapeutic doses. In many countries it is available without prescription. Unfortunately, its ready availability is associated with episodes of poisoning that prompt 3.3% of inquiries to US regional poisons centres, 10% of inquiries to the UK National Poisons Information Service, and up to 43% of all admissions
to hospital with self poisoning in the United Kingdom.3 In the United States paracetamol alone accounted for 4.1% of deaths from poisoning reported to American poisons centres in 1997. Most deaths are associated with deliberate self poisoning, but therapeutic misadventures do occur rarely, in both adults and children.