Why the Common Teaspoon is Causing Medication Overdose
Something as seemingly benign as giving a child oral liquid medication has created quite a stir in the news recently. The culprit: using teaspoons and tablespoon-based medicine instructions. In fact, using this type of measurement doubled a parent’s chances of inaccurately dosing their child. Confusion about proper medicine dosing has contributed to over 10,000 calls to poison centers and 70,000 ER visits each year.
A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found medication errors to be common. In fact, 39% of parents made an error in the dosage they intended and 41% incorrectly measured what the doctor prescribed. Nearly one-third of parents reached for a kitchen teaspoon or tablespoons as opposed to an oral syringe or cup for dosage measurement making them 2.5 times more likely to get it wrong.
To minimize the incidence and risk of medication dosage errors, it has been recommended that dosage instructions be moved to milliliters only. It is believed that this should also help reduce the incidence of parents reaching for teaspoon and tablespoons for measuring proper doses. To help reduce the risk and incidence of dosing errors, many pharmacies and doctors are moving to providing dosage instructions in milliliters.
A formal move to milliliters will likely take some time before implementation.
In the meantime, here are some tips to help properly measure your child’s oral liquid medicine:
- Always use a standardized dosing tool such as an oral syringe or dosing cup to measure medication.
- When at the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist to provide dosage instructions in milliliters.
- If you do not have a dosing cup or oral syringe, ask your pharmacist or pediatrician for one.
- Never use a kitchen spoon to measure medications.
We are here to help. If you have questions on how to properly dose your child’s medications, please contact us at (910) 486-5437.