Back to Journals » Advances in Medical Education and Practice » Volume 8

Student-selected component in the medical curriculum: investigations and psychiatric referral for paracetamol overdose in an accident and emergency department

Authors Cowman JG, Bakheet M

Received 7 June 2017

Accepted for publication 10 August 2017

Published 23 August 2017 Volume 2017:8 Pages 611—617


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Md Anwarul Majumder

James G Cowman, Manuel Bakheet

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Medical University of Bahrain, Manama, Bahrain

Background: A student-selected component (SSC) of the medical curriculum requires the student to be self-directed in locating and undertaking a placement in a clinical specialty of their choosing and completing a project. The clinical area for experience was an accident and emergency department, and our topic was a focused audit on the investigations and referral for paracetamol overdose. The purpose of this paper is twofold: to reflect on the education value to medical students of an SSC in a medical curriculum, and to highlight learning and understanding through completion of an audit.
Materials and methods: An audit approach was applied. The aim of the project study was to investigate the level of compliance with best-practice guidelines for investigations and psychiatric referral in paracetamol overdose.
Results: A total of 40 cases meeting the inclusion criteria were randomly selected. The sample had a mean age of 27 years, of whom 70.5% were female, and the ingested dose of paracetamol ranged from 0.864 to 80 g. Paracetamol abuse may present as intentional and unintentional overdose. In our study, 85% of cases were identified as intentional overdose and 76% had a history of psychiatric illness. Generally, medical management was compliant with guidelines, with some minor irregularities. The international normalized ratio was the most underperformed test.
Conclusion: Our choice of topic, paracetamol overdose, contributed to our understanding of the breadth of factors to be considered in the emergency medical management of a patient. In this regard, we had the benefit of understanding how the diagnostic and therapeutic factors, when applied in accordance with best-practice guidelines, work very effectively. The SSC impacted positively on our cognitive, personal, and professional development. In facilitating the student with choice, the SSC encouraged self-direction and proactivity. We gained experience in the discipline of research and acquired some skills in independent thinking and analysis.

Keywords: self-directed learning, medical curriculum, student-selected component, paracetamol overdose, investigations, psychiatric referral

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]