If an acetaminophen overdose is suspected, obtain a serum acetaminophen assay as soon as possible, but no sooner than 4 hours following oral ingestion. Obtain liver function studies initially and repeat at 24-hour intervals. Administer the antidote N-acetylcysteine (NAC) as early as possible. As a guide to treatment of acute ingestion, the acetaminophen level can be plotted against time since oral ingestion on a nomogram (Rumack-Matthew). The lower toxic line on the nomogram is equivalent to 150 mcg/mL at 4 hours and mcg/mL at 12 hours. If serum level is above the lower line, administer the entire course of NAC treatment. Withhold NAC therapy if the acetaminophen level is below the lower line.
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