Monday, 8 August 2016

Research award will benefit research into improved treatment regimens for paracetamol poisoning

Dr Anselm Wong
Monash University PhD student and Monash Health clinical toxicologist Dr Anselm Wong has received the Morson-Taylor award for his research project assessing a shortened treatment protocol for poisoning with paracetamol, one of the most common poisonings treated in Australian emergency departments.

The competitive research grant worth $10,000 from the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM) will support Dr Wong’s research into modified acetylcysteine treatment regimens. 

“Paracetamol is one of the most common medications taken in overdose, both accidentally and intentionally, around the world—it is readily available and doesn’t require a prescription to purchase,” said Dr Wong, who is completing his PhD at the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS).

In Australia, there are approximately 8,000 cases of paracetamol poisoning presenting to emergency departments each year while the UK sees approximately 70,000 cases every year.

“Acetylcysteine (N-acetylcysteine or NAC) is the antidote used to treat patients at risk of developing liver toxicity following paracetamol overdose, and the current standard treatment regimen is 20 hours,” said Dr Wong.

“20 hours of treatment in hospital can be problematic as many of these patients also suffer from mental health problems and need urgent access to mental health assessment and care.”

Dr Wong’s study, the NACSTOP Trial, will investigate whether the acetylcysteine treatment regimen can be shortened to 12 hours in a low-risk cohort of patients.

Dr Wong said that if successful, a reduced treatment regimen will allow for earlier assessment and referral of patients requiring treatment for co-existing mental health conditions, and potentially free-up capacity in busy emergency departments and medical units.

The NACSTOP Trial is a multi-centre, cluster-controlled study of patients with single or staggered paracetamol overdose who present to the Emergency Departments in six Australian metropolitan hospitals in Victoria and New South Wales, including Monash Medical Centre, Dandenong Hospital and Casey Hospital.

Dr Wong is supervised by Professor Andis Graudins, Director Monash Clinical Toxicology Service.  His research is also supported by an NHMRC Postgraduate Research Scholarship.    

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