Are medicine labels setting parents up to provide wrong doses?

There's No Substitute for Experience

Parents don't want to see their children feeling ill or in pain. With this is mind, it's understandable why parents take their kids to the doctor to see if any remedy is available. Oftentimes, the solution comes in the form of a prescription.

In many cases, children cannot swallow pills, so medication is delivered in liquid form. While this may provide an easy way to administer the medicine children need, the dosage instructions may be setting parents up for failure. And, in turn, children are put at risk of being given doses that are too small or too large.

A report in the New York Times indicates that poison control centers nationwide receive over 100,000 calls every year from parents who are worried about giving their children too much medication. This anxiety stems from concerns about instructions that include measurements as diverse as milligrams and teaspoons. Although both do represent specific units of measure, there is room for confusion.

When parents see “teaspoons” as part of the required dosage for a medicine, they might use any spoon from their kitchen. However, if the parent accidentally uses a tablespoon, the child would receive a dose that's three times stronger than it should be.

With this problem in mind, researchers have determined that medications should have a standardized unit of measurement for medication. Interestingly enough, the study found that the least amount of errors was made when doses were provided in milliliters, a metric unit.

Certainly, parents play a role in delivering the correct amount of medicine to their children. At the same time, however, manufacturers should provide labeling and instructions that are clear and will provide the best possible outcome. When it comes to small children, even a small error in dosage could have large impact.

Share To: