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Every 8 Minutes a Child is Improperly Medicated: 5 Tips Parents Need to Know

Doctor giving medicine to patient

A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics revealed that more than 63,000 children under the age of 6 experience out-of-hospital medication errors each year. That means every eight minutes a child is improperly medicated. The most common error? Double-dosing, or accidentally giving the same medication twice. Learn 5 ways to keep your child safe.

The study, which examined National Poison Data System data from 2002 to 2012, also cites incorrect dosages, confusing units of measure, and giving the wrong medication entirely as other top mistakes.

Even the most conscientious parents and caregivers can inadvertently make an error that while rarely serious, can lead to the need for medical intervention or impact a child’s health.

Here are 5 Tips to Help you Prevent a Medication Error:

Ask: Always ask your healthcare provider and pharmacist for information about your child’s medications in terms you can clearly understand. Write things down to help you remember. Call if you have questions after you get home.

Get organized: Keep medications in one location, out of children’s reach, rather than scattered throughout the house to avoid unnecessary confusion.

Keep a log: Prevent double-dosing by writing down the time and dosage every time you administer a medication. This is especially helpful when several people may be involved in your child’s care.

Pay attention to measurement markings. It can be easy to mistake a tablespoon for a teaspoon, or 4 mls. for .4 mls. Read the dosage information several times.

Use the proper tools. Eight out of 10 errors involve liquid medications like cough syrup. Always use devices like dosing syringes specifically designed to administer medications. Never use home utensils like spoons that don’t allow precise measurement, or let your child drink directly from a medication bottle.

author name

Jennifer S. Ammons, MD

Jennifer S. Ammons, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician with Roseville Pediatrics. Dr. Ammons is a graduate of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed her residency at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Her special areas of interest include child safety, infectious diseases, and immunizations.

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About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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