Illinois Poison Center: Be vigilant about giving children the proper dosage

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SPRINGFIELD – Parents and caregivers in Illinois are being reminded to be vigilant about giving children the right medicine, at the right time, in the right amount.

According to the Illinois Poison Center’s (IPC) statistics, the center managed over 8,300 cases of medication errors in 2015, which was over 10% of its total cases. Of those cases, 549 were dosing errors in children under the age of five.

A new study published in this month’s Pediatrics highlighted how dosing error rates are affected by medication labels and dosing tools.

IPC reports researchers found that 84% of caregivers to more than 2,000 children made one or more significant dosing errors. IPC says caregivers made more errors with dosing cups than syringes and when using teaspoon-only labels, compared to milliliter-only labels.

Medical officials say even giving too little medication can cause negative effects, depending on the type of medication. One-time extra doses or multiple extra doses can also be dangerous.

IPC is offering the following tips to prevent medication mishaps:

  • Understand your child’s medication directions and follow them exactly. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions;
  • When picking up a liquid medication prescription at the pharmacy, ensure that a dosing syringe has been provided;
  • Use the dosing device that comes with the medicine, not kitchen utensils. Kitchen teaspoons and tablespoons used for cooking are designed for style and look, not for precise drug measuring;
  • Adults should always supervise older children if they self-administer medicine;
  • To avoid double dosing, designate one caregiver in the home to give the medicine;
  • When other caregivers are giving your child medicine, write clear instructions about what medicine to give, when to give it and how much to give;
  • Keep a written reminder of every dose given, along with the date and time; and
  • Tie medicine time to a specific activity, like brushing teeth, to help caregivers and children remember to take medicine and avoid inadvertently taking it twice.

IPC experts are also available to provide information and treatment advice 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including holidays. Their hotline is (800) 222-1222. The call is free and confidential.

More information on medication safety and other topics are available on IPC’s Resource Center.

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