study finds parents can do more to prevent medication mistakes

One of the hardest times for any parent is when their child comes down with some sort of illness that leaves them feeling sick and uncomfortable or, even worse, in pain. Understandably, parents want to do everything in their power to help their children feel better, including giving them the necessary medications.

According to a new study, however, parents reaching for the medication — prescribed or over-the-counter — will want to be extra careful that they don’t inadvertently make their children feel worse.

That’s because the study, published in last month’s edition of the medical journal Pediatrics, found that between 2002 and 2012 upwards of 700,000 children under the age of six fell victim to some type of medication error outside of the hospital, a number that equates to roughly one child receiving the wrong dosage or wrong drug every eight minutes here in the U.S.

Careful examination of all medication error cases involving children six and under reported to the National Poison Data System during the referenced timeframe also informed the study authors that while 94 percent of these medication mistakes required no treatment, there were still 1,900 critical care admissions and 25 fatalities attributable to these mistakes.

What then is behind some of these prescription errors?

According to the study authors, over 25 percent of the errors could be attributed to a child being given the same medication twice, suggesting that parents are perhaps overzealous in making sure their child has had the necessary medication.

“One caregiver may give a child a dose, and then a second caregiver, who does not know that and wants to make sure the child gets the proper amount of medicine, may give the child a dose, too,” said the primary author of the study.

Another major finding by the study authors was that the improper administration of liquid medication, which is the most common form of medication given to infants and young children, was present in eight out of every ten medication errors. Here, the authors attribute much of this to the various measurement standards (milliliters, teaspoons, etc.) and instruments (syringes, measuring cups, etc.) used.

In order to help reduce the possibility of these types of medication errors, the study authors recommend that parents download a smartphone app allowing them to keep a real-time medication schedule, and to always use the measuring device and follow the instructions that come with a particular medication.

Interestingly, another medical professional unaffiliated with the study urged parents to simply use a bit more restraint when reaching for medication, particularly over-the-counter medicine, as their children might not really need it.

Always remember to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if the reckless actions of a medical professional have caused you or a loved to suffer unnecessary pain and/or permanent bodily harm.

Source: Web MD, “Medication errors occur every 8 minutes in kids,” Tara Haelle, Oct. 20, 2014

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