Kids Given Wrong Medications Routinely

Every eight minutes in the United states, a child is given the wrong dose of medication, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, looked a decade of data from 50 U.S. poison control centers and found that between  2002 and 2012, caregivers incorrectly gave medication to an average of 63,358 under the age of six.

“Initially as clinicians, we noticed that we were seeing more of these in our own center and in our own practice,” study author Henry Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told “We pulled the national data to see how large of a problem this is.”

About 82 percent of the errors involved liquid formula, followed by tablets, capsules and caplets, which accounted for about 15 percent of the mistakes. Medication included ibuprofen, Tylenol, cough and cold , asthma medications, as well as drugs for attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).

Errors were most common among children younger than a year old.

Parents with children among that age group typically aren’t familiar with the medications they’re administering, and, regardless of whether they’re new parents or have added another child to the family, they’re hurried and easily distracted when administering the medicine, Spiller said.

More than 25 percent of errors were due to what Spiller called “double-dosing.”

“What typically happens is, the mother goes in and gives the children a dose, then cares for another kid or makes dinner. The father comes in and wants to help and gives the child a dose. And then they talk, and they found they double-dosed their child,” Spiller explained.

Researchers encouraged medication scheduling and communication among caregivers to remedy that mistake.

Other times, caregivers credited poor package labeling or difficulty reading measurements on pre-provided cups for liquid medication.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with other professionals and academics in the industry, are working to reduce these types of errors. Their recommendations include standardizing measurements for liquid medication to millimeters rather than teaspoons or tablespoons, and placing zeroes before decimal points on dosage labels.

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