July 15, 2013 — Liver Transplantation has published a study of people who overdose on Tylenol (acetaminophen) and developed acute liver failure. Researchers found that the overall health of the Tylenol overdose patients was worse than non-drug induced liver failure. They also had worse long-term functional ability and poorer quality of life.
The research involved data on nearly 300 adults who had acute liver failure between January 1998 and July 2010. Researchers followed up with the patients at one and two years after liver failure. The study involved 125 people who underwent a liver transplant and 157 “spontaneous survivors” who did not have a liver transplant. Of these patients, 95 overdosed on acetaminophen and 65 patients did not.
The researchers compared overall health from the acetaminophen-overdose group and the non-drug induced liver failure patients. They found the acetaminophen group had:
“…significantly lower general health scores and more days of impaired mental and physical health, activity limitations due to poor health, pain, depression, and anxiety.”
The researchers attributed the poorer overall health and long-term prognosis to higher rates of psychiatric disorders and substance abuse in patients who intentionally overdosed on acetaminophen. Less than half of the accidental overdose patients had psychiatric disorders.