More than 80 percent of 2,110 parents made dosing mistakes when measuring liquid medicine, a new Pediatrics study reveals. And, the majority of those mistakes were overdoses. The study was in the form of a lab experiment (so no children were harmed). Researchers found that 4 times more errors occurred when a dosing cup was used instead of an oral syringe.
Manufacturers of liquid medication may have different kinds of cups, droppers, spoons or syringes to use to give your child his medicine. These various kinds of measuring items can be confusing and lead to accidentally using one that wasn’t intended for a particular medication.
What should you do?
- Always use the oral syringe or dropper that comes with the medication. Do not use a syringe or dropper from a previous medication.
- Measure calmly, carefully, and exactly.
- Never use kitchen teaspoons because they are not intended for medication use. Kitchen spoons vary widely and can hold vastly different amounts of liquids.
- The researchers in this study recommend using oral syringes instead of cups, especially if small doses (eg. for babies) are needed.
There is no doubt that having a sick baby or child is very stressful. When our kids are sick, we are worried and probably sleep deprived from being up with them at night. You can reduce the odds of making a medication mistake by using only the syringe or dropper that comes with the medicine bottle, or ask your pharmacist to help you select a syringe. Be sure you understand the label and the markings on the syringe.
- If you are giving a non-prescription medication (such as Tylenol or any over-the-counter medicine), be sure to give the dose that is based on your child’s weight, not his age. If in doubt, ask a doctor, nurse, physician assistant, pharmacist or other healthcare provider.
- AAP has helpful dosage charts for acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil).
- Check out the AAP’s video guide on how to measure meds and read about useful medication tips.