Just a few extra paracetamol tablets can cause liver damage – coroner

Dublin man died from accidental paracetamol overdose

A post-mortem report found the young man had sustained liver damage due to his use of paracetamol as a pain killer.  Photograph: Getty Images

A post-mortem report found the young man had sustained liver damage due to his use of paracetamol as a pain killer. Photograph: Getty Images

 

A 36-year-old man taking paracetamol for pain relief died of liver damage due to toxic levels in his system.

Daniel Keenan had his gall bladder removed months prior to his death and regularly complained of pain in his chest and abdomen. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and was actively engaging with services to manage this condition, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

His mother, Kathleen Keenan, said her son had some medical issues that he seemed to be coping with. She and her husband kept a close eye on his diet, but she said his weight was a problem as he “seemed to be always getting thinner”.

He had been suffering from pancreatitis for six years and had schizophrenia.

The day before his death, Daniel Keenan, from North Strand, Dublin, ate dinner as normal and was in “good form”. His father brought a ham roll to his room around 10pm. It was the last time he saw him alive.

He found his son dead, seated on a chair in his bedroom, the following morning January 29th, 2017.

A post-mortem report found the young man had sustained liver damage due to his use of paracetamol as a pain killer.

Coroner Dr Crona Gallagher said the man’s blood sugar level was also high.

“Somehow the paracetamol has been high enough over a period of time to cause liver damage. The level of glucose was also high. I think the diabetes is a contributory factor,” the coroner said.

The cause of death was acute liver damage secondary to paracetamol toxicity with elevated sugar levels in the blood as a significant risk factor. There was no alcohol present in his system.

“Paracetamol can be quite dangerous in amounts that are not massively higher than the recommended amount, you don’t have to take hundreds of tablets, just a few extra is enough to cause damage,” Dr Gallagher said.

The inquest heard that Mr Keenan was taking the paracetamol for pain but he was not aware that a different pain killer might have served him better without the risk.

The coroner returned a verdict of misadventure.

“He took the paracetamol to treat pain but didn’t intend to harm himself. But it caused damage to his liver and that caused his sudden death,” Dr Gallagher said.