Oct 24, 2016

Dr. Gellner: Are you giving your child the correct dose of their liquid medicine? Many parents aren't. I'll talk about proper medication dosing on today's scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering "The Healthy Kids Zone" with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: No parent would intentionally give their child the wrong dose of medicine, but it happens more than you think. A new study shows parents end up giving more than twice as much as instructed in some cases. With little kids up until 12 years old or 88 pounds, everything is based on weight. That's why your pediatrician has to take the extra time and calculate how much liquid medicine to give whenever they give you a new prescription.

You know those little medicine cups that come with all the liquid medicines? Turns out they're not the most accurate and that little device is what was used during most dosing errors. Have you tried measuring 2.3 milliliters with a plastic cup? You can't. Using an oral syringe to measure your child's liquid medicine is much better.

Then there's the confusion of milliliters versus teaspoons versus tablespoons. It's hard to keep straight. That's why pediatricians have recommended only using milliliters when given dosing instructions to parents. It's a lot easier to measure accurately. The study that just came out in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that in nine different trials, almost 85% of the parents made at least one dosing error. And more than 68% of the errors were overdoses. About 21% of parents, at least once, measured out more than twice the proper dose.

It was the device used to give the medicine that had the biggest effect on errors. When those little plastic medicine cups were used, there were four times as many errors as when an oral syringe was used. If you have questions about how to use an oral syringe, ask your pediatrician or the pharmacist when you pick up your prescription.

Oral syringes are usually available in the baby aisle of most stores. But if your child is prescribed a medication, the pharmacy should always give you a few to take home with your prescription. Be sure to clean those with hot, soapy water and rinse thoroughly after each use. Remember, even a little bit too much of any medicine can be too much for your little person. Be sure you are accurate when giving them liquid medicines.

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