Investigation : Paracetamol
Specimen type : Serum
Spec container : Serum Gel 
Volume required : 5 ml
Reference range : <6 mg/L
Turnaround : <1 hour

In suspected overdose, take the sample more than 4 hours post ingestion, and consult normogram in BNF.

It is essential that the timing of the blood sample in relation to the ingestion of paracetamol / salicylate is known for the correct interpretation of the plasma concentration e.g. a plasma paracetamol concentration of 30 mg/L is toxic if the sample was taken 16 hours post overdose. Here, elevation in ALT and INR may indicate toxicity.

From August 1st 2002, the time since overdose must be clearly marked on all paracetamol / salicylate request cards. Samples received without a specified time will be returned by the pod system to the relevant ward.

Click here for guidelines on Paracetamol overdose - use of acetylcysteine.

Additional information on paracetamol and its clinical use can be found here: paracetamol.

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