FDA Panel: Correct Acetaminophen Dose Depends on Kids' Weight
Infant Drug Labels Should Spell Out Dose; Industry Backs New Rule
Acetaminophen Overdose: Common Reasons
In providing information to the panel, the FDA found that only a fraction of fatal and non-fatal acetaminophen overdoses in children are reported to the federal agency. However, it listed common reasons for acetaminophen overdoses in children:
- Inadequate prominence of the concentration on the container label.
- Providers not specifying what formulation parents should use.
- Providers not aware of varying concentrations available in the market.
- The use of adult formulations of acetaminophen in children.
- Confusion regarding how to measure with dosing devices.
- Use of devices not packaged with the medication.
- Dangerous abbreviations used on dosing devices.
- Misinterpretation or misunderstanding of provider instructions.
- Misinterpretation of labels, labeling, and dosage charts.
- Not following labeled directions or simply guessing how to dose.
- Miscalculation when trying to convert measuring units (e.g. mL to teaspoons).
- Miscalculation of doses.
- Inconsistency of dosing based on weight vs. dosing based on age.
- Administration of acetaminophen by multiple parents or caregivers.
- Parents were not aware that other products contained acetaminophen.
- Caregivers who were not aware that acetaminophen and Tylenol have the same active ingredient.
Avoiding Acetaminophen Overdose
To avoid these errors -- as well as accidental overdoses by children themselves -- the CHPA offers this advice:
- Always read and follow the label.
- Only use the medicine that treats your child’s specific symptoms.
- Store ALL of your family’s medicines, including products you use every day, high up and out of sight from children.
- Put medicines away -- out of reach and out of sight -- EVERY time you use them.
- Always lock the child safety cap completely every time you use a medicine.
- Always tell children what medicines are, and do not refer to them as candy.
- Remind house guests not to put medicines in purses, bags, coats, or other places small children can get into.
- Keep the poison control help line number handy, or program it into your phone: 800-222-1222.