Skip to content

    Children's Health

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Teaspoons Behind Many Child Drug-Dosing Errors

    Experts recommend medications be administered in milliliters only

    continued...

    The inaccuracy of kitchen spoons becomes even more worrisome given that drugs are prescribed to children based on their weight, to make sure they are receiving a precise dose, said Heather Free, a pharmacist in Washington, D.C., and spokeswoman for the American Pharmacists Association.

    Kids are more sensitive than adults to many drugs, and getting the dose even slightly wrong can lead to problems.

    "Just a tiny amount, a milliliter more, can increase toxicity levels or underdose the patient," Free said.

    Some parents also have trouble distinguishing a teaspoon from a tablespoon, or the abbreviation tsp. from tbsp., Paul said.

    "It's not readily apparent that abbreviation stands for teaspoon, not tablespoon, especially for those parents with low health literacy," Paul said.

    To ward off dosing errors, some pharmacy chains now dole out pediatric prescriptions with milliliter dosing instructions and provide parents with oral syringes to accurately measure each dose, Free said.

    Free herself uses milliliter dosing in filling prescriptions for children, and even marks the prescribed dose on the oral syringe so parents don't have to eyeball the right amount each time.

    Parents should not be afraid to ask their doctor or pharmacist to make their child's prescription easier to administer, Yin said.

    "Parents should ask their doctor or pharmacist to tell them the dose in milliliters instead of teaspoons and tablespoons," she said. "Parents should also make sure to use a dosing device, like an oral syringe, dropper or dosing spoon, rather than a kitchen spoon, to measure out the dose."

    Pharmacies have accurate dosing devices on hand and should provide them if asked, Free said.

    "If the pharmacist does not provide it, I encourage parents to ask your pharmacist for one of their disposable oral syringes, and make sure they are familiar for how to use it," she said.

    1 | 2

    Today on WebMD

    child with red rash on cheeks
    What’s that rash?
    plate of fruit and veggies
    How healthy is your child’s diet?
     
    smiling baby
    Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
    Middle school band practice
    Understanding your child’s changing body.
     

    worried kid
    fitArticle
    jennifer aniston
    Slideshow
     
    Measles virus
    Article
    sick child
    Slideshow
     

    babyapp
    New
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow
     
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
    Child Coughing or Sneezing into Elbow
    Article