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Children’s Medicine Dosing Errors

Medication errors are extremely common in kids. In fact, a recent study showed 80% of parents made at least one dosing error when measuring liquid medication used for kids. The study looked at various tools used to measure liquid medicine. It found using a syringe decreased the likelihood of measurement errors compared to using a cup. It also showed matching the syringe size to the dose decreased errors. For example, errors were decreased when a 5 milliliter syringe was used for medication doses from 0-5 ml and a ten milliliter syringe was used for medication doses from 6-10 ml. Parents also made fewer errors when instructions were given with both pictures and text compared to to text alone. In addition to incorrect dosing, medication errors can occur if a medicine is inadvertently given twice, units of measure are confused, and or a wrong medication is given.

If your child needs to take a medicine make sure instructions are clear, ask your health care provider or pharmacist for a syringe if you don't have one, and write down the dose and time of the medication given if there are multiple care providers in the home. If you are concerned about a medication error call your child's pediatrician and or the local poison control center.