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How to decrease medication errors in children

It may seem difficult enough to figure out the correct dose of a medicine to give ourselves, but when giving liquid medicine to younger children, the situation is more complex. A recent research study shows that many parents make mistakes when they give their children medicine. Most of the mistakes are giving too much medicine.

The research was just published in the journal Pediatrics, and involved American parents in the states of New York, Georgia, and California. The idea of the research was to find out how to decrease the number of errors made by parents in dosing their children.

The study involved 2,110 parents. The parents were instructed to give their children various doses of liquid medicines. Some parents used a kitchen teaspoon to measure the medicine, some used medicine cups, and others used doing syringes.

Overall, 84% of the parents made at least one mistake in giving the correct medicine dose. In 68% of the errors, the parents gave too much medication. Alarmingly, 21% of the parents made a mistake at least once where they gave more than double the correct dose. While this study was done in the US, it is likely these errors occur in other countries as well.

Some parents made the mistake of using tablespoons of medicine rather than teaspoons. And especially when the parents were supposed to give small doses, the number of errors was greater. Here are recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics:

How to give the correct medication dose

1) Do not use a teaspoon or tablespoon, especially one from the kitchen, to measure the dose. The spoons vary in size, and the risk of error is high. Also, sometimes a teaspoon can be confused with a tablespoon.

2) Use a syringe to measure the correct dose of liquid medicine. If a measuring cup is used, the risk of giving the wrong dose is 4 times greater than when using a syringe. A syringe gives the most exact dosing.

3) If the medicine does not come with a syringe, ask the pharmacist for a syringe, even if you have to pay for it.

4) Make sure the pharmacist writes down for you the exact dose to give, and how often. Make sure you understand and can read what the pharmacist wrote. Sometimes this can be confusing, so if any questions, clear them up before you leave the pharmacy.

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How to decrease medication errors in children was last modified: November 1st, 2016 by

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