OBJECTIVE

To 1) determine current intravenous (IV) acetaminophen use in pediatric inpatients; and 2) determine the association between opioid medication duration when used with or without IV acetaminophen.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis of pediatric inpatients exposed to IV acetaminophen from January 2011 to June 2016, using the national database Health Facts.

RESULTS

Eighteen thousand one hundred ninety-seven (2.0%) of 893,293 pediatric inpatients received IV acetaminophen for a median of 14 doses per patient (IQR, 8–56). A greater proportion of IV acetaminophen patients were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) (14.8% vs 5.1%, p < 0.0001), received positive pressure ventilation (2.0% vs 1.5%, p < 0.0001), had a higher hospital mortality rate (0.9% vs 0.3%, p < 0.0001), and were operative (35.5% vs 12.8%, p < 0.001) than those not receiving IV acetaminophen. The most common operations associated with IV acetaminophen use were musculoskeletal and digestive system operations. Prescription of IV acetaminophen increased over time, both in prescription rates and number of per patient doses. Of the 18,197 patients prescribed IV acetaminophen, 16,241 (89.2%) also were prescribed opioids during their hospitalization. A multivariate analysis revealed patients prescribed both IV acetaminophen and opioids had a 54.8% increase in opioid duration as compared with patients who received opioids alone.

CONCLUSIONS

This is the first study to assess IV acetaminophen prescription practices for pediatric inpatients. Intravenous acetaminophen prescription was greater in the non-operative pediatric inpatient population than operative patients. Intravenous acetaminophen prescription was associated with an increase in opioid duration as compared with patients who received opioids alone, suggesting that it is commonly used to supplement opioids for pain relief.

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