# National Science Foundation - Where Discoveries Begin

## "Calculated Risk" -- The Discovery Files

 Play Audio The Discovery Files podcast is available through iTunes or you can add the RSS feed to your podcast receiver. You can also access the series via AudioNow® by calling 641-552-8180 on any telephone. University of Utah mathematicians developed a set of calculus equations to make it easier for doctors to save acetaminophen overdose patients by quickly estimating how much painkiller they took, when they consumed it and whether they will require a liver transplant to survive. Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

 Audio Transcript:In Case of Overdose, (Sound effect: writing on chalkboard) Do the Math. I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files--new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation. (Sound effect: hospital emergency room) A patient comes into the emergency room, suspected acetaminophen overdose, liver failure. Doctors must make a crucial decision: Treat with an antidote, or put the patient on the short list for a liver transplant. Some patients will survive with medical treatment. Some will die without a liver transplant. But start treatment and you reduce the patient's odds of getting that new liver, or risk delaying the transplant past the window when the body can tolerate it. To make the "treat or transplant" decision, doctors need to know the amount of acetaminophen consumed, and when. The questions may have a mathematical solution. At the University of Utah, mathematicians have developed a set of calculus equations to quickly estimate how much acetaminophen was taken based on lab test results and accurately predict which patients will survive with treatment and which will die without a transplant. 4 grams of acetaminophen is the maximum daily dosage. It takes only 6 grams to cause liver damage. Twenty can kill you. With acetaminophen the leading cause of acute liver injury in the U.S., this new mathematical method could save lives. You know what's ironic? Math used to give me headaches. "The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's national science foundation. Federally sponsored research--brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov or on our podcast. General Restrictions: Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only. Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation. Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.

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