New Recommendations for Measuring Children’s Medicine

If you’re a parent or caretaker of a child, nothing is more important to you than your child’s health – especially when they’re already sick.  Overdoses of children’s medicine can be especially common but the FDA recently released new guidelines to advise parents and caretakers, and prevent accidental overdoses. 

 

Often, overdoses are caused by poorly labeled medications or directions that are unclear – after all, the United States uses it’s own brand of measurement, that is not based upon the universally accepted metric system.  Research has found that the metric system is the most accurate and the easiest to use but getting Doctor’s to adjust has been a difficult road.  Even more dangerous is that some parents use household spoons to measure out medications, a big no-no if you want to accurately dose and avoid dangerous mistakes.  New guidelines are urging caretakers to measure out liquid medicines in millimeters and directions should include leading zeros (such as 0.5 for a half dose of medication) while avoiding trailing zeros (like 0.50).  This significantly reduces the margin of error for caretakers when measuring out medication.

 

These new guidelines are the most extensively issues changes since the 1970’s but the FDA warns that for these guidelines to make a significant change, Doctors and medical providers would also have to get on board as well as pharmacists.  Even further, manufacturers should avoid using non-metric units in directions and any dosing tools provided (like cups or syringes) should be marked in metric units and not be much bigger than the recommended dose.  The most accurate way to dose liquid medicine to children is to use a syringe and hold it in the side of your child’s mouth while you release the medicine slowly.  This process does two things:  it makes it easier for the child to swallow the medicine and makes sure that you, as a caretaker, are confident that the dose you just gave, is correct.

 

Another big source of medication errors are the height and weight of the patient.  Changes should also be made so that Doctors are recording their patient’s weight and height in kilograms.  The same applies for body temperature:  it should be recorded in Celsius rather than Fahrenheit.  Prescription medications classed as narcotics are the most dangerous while Acetaminophen continues to be the most dangerous over-the-counter drug that children can overdose on.   The FDA and Doctors hope that these new guidelines will prevent the influx of accidental overdoses in emergency rooms across the nation.

 

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