Parents: Are You Improperly Medicating Your Child?

Doctor giving medicine to patient

Above all else, no parent ever wants to do their child any harm. You go to extraordinary measures to make sure your child’s sleep environment is safe, her car seat is properly installed, and the electrical outlets and cupboards in your home are child-proofed.

However, many parents are unknowingly improperly medicating their child. Data indicates that more than 63,000 children under the age of six experience out-of-hospital medication errors each year. That means every eight minutes a child is improperly medicated.

Common Drug Errors

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.

  • Double-dosing, or accidentally giving the same medication twice
  • Giving incorrect dosages
  • Confusing units of measure
  • Administering the wrong medication altogether

5 Tips to Prevent a Medication Accident

By keeping medication safety top of mind and taking some simple steps, you can help assure that you properly medicate your child.

Ask Questions About Your Child’s Medication

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.

Keep Medication 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.

By following these guidelines, and making sure others who care for your child do the same, you can help assure needed medications are helping not harming your child.

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.

Call: 717-569-6481

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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