Every 8 minutes a child experiences a medication error, report doctors from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio. One of the most common errors by parents and caregivers is giving children the same medicine twice. Other medication mistakes include:
- giving the wrong dose of medicine
- confusing the units of measurement for the medication
- giving the wrong medication
These mistakes are most common in children under age 6. Luckily, in over 90 percent of these cases the children did not need treatment at a hospital or clinic.
The key to safely giving children medicine is summed up in 3 points:
- Right Dose
- Right Time
- Right Way
Make sure you understand the amount of medicine you are supposed to give your child and how to measure the dose. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure. If you need to measure a dose of medicine, use the dosing device that came with the medicine or one made specifically for measuring medications.
Have your doctor or pharmacist explain how often you need to give your child the medication. Use a diary or phone to schedule reminders. Mark in your diary or phone when you gave the medication. If more than one person is going to give the medicine to your child, keep a list with the medicine so each person can note the day and time the medication was given.
Sometimes the medicine tastes terrible or the tablets are hard to swallow and you wonder what you should do. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before crushing tablets or mixing medication with food or drink.
For more guidance on administering medications to children see:
The report, “Out-of-Hospital Medication Errors Among Young Children in the United States, 2002 – 2012” is published in the journal Pediatrics.