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Medication dosage errors are common among children

New Mexico residents may not be aware about how common children's medication errors are in the United States. According to a recent study, while 94 percent of the reported errors didn't lead to the child needing medical attention, the mistakes caused 25 deaths and around 1,900 critical injuries that required hospital admission. The wrong type of medicine or the wrong dosage is given to a child every eight minutes, and the younger the child's age, the more likely for a mistake to be made.

The report estimates that 700,000 children younger than age 6 experienced medication mistakes occurring outside of the hospital between 2002 and 2012. A common way the mistakes were made was when a caregiver provided the right dosage to a child but another caregiver who was unaware that the child had already received medicine gave the same dosage. Other mistakes can occur when the dosage is not accurately measured or is over-prescribed.

The report also found that the majority of the mistakes were made with liquid medication. Children are often prescribed liquid medicine more than any other medicinal forms because it is easier to swallow, but it is much harder to correctly measure liquids than solids like tablets or pills. Many liquid medications measure with teaspoons or tablespoons that may be confusing for caregivers to appropriately measure. This is the cause of many dosing mistakes, especially if the caregiver attempts to pour the dose in a kitchen spoon.

It is easy to give a child the wrong dose, and some medical experts believe that decreasing the amount of medication the child needs may reduce dosage mistakes. The situation could become very serious, especially if hospital admission is necessary and doctors fail to identify that a drug overdose has occurred.

Source: Medline Plus, "Medication Errors Occur Every 8 Minutes in U.S. Children", January 07, 2015

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