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Paracetamol beneficial for ICU patients

Paracetamol safe for IC patients: research
Photo: Paracetamol safe for IC patients: research
Paracetamol helps some intensive care patients leave hospital quicker, new Australasian research indicates.

Paracetamol is safe for treating patients in intensive care, helping many recover and leave hospital earlier, say Australasian researchers.

The researchers say their findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, will influence medical practice around the world.

The study, by the George Institute for Global Health and the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, involved more than 2500 doctors and nurses from 23 intensive care units in Australia and New Zealand.

"Paracetamol is the world's most commonly administered medicine and has been around for more than 60 years," says the George Institute's Dr Manoj Saxena.

"However, there had been some concern among doctors that the common practice of using it to reduce fever in ICU patients might make them worse."
Previous evidence suggested fever may help the body combat infection, so the researchers wanted to see whether trying to suppress it was doing patients more harm than good.

"We showed that paracetamol only reduced a fever mildly, but importantly it is safe to use and did not make outcomes any worse," Dr Saxena said.

"In fact, in many cases it actually improved outcomes and patients came out of ICU quicker."

Patients who died spent more time in ICU before death if given paracetamol.

"This suggests that paracetamol can not only speed up recovery but can also delay death in patients who will ultimately die," he said.

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