Are you making medication errors with your kid? Choosing the right dosing tool can help

A new study identified three ways to help prevent parents from making mistakes when measuring out their kids’ medication. Here’s what you need to know.

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The times when you find yourself doling out medicine for your kid are generally not the most clear-headed moments. You might have listened to hours of coughing or crying, and chances are you’re running on next to no sleep. Then you attempt to calculate how much medicine they need for their weight using a simple formula that, at 3 a.m., feels like a grade 12 calculus equation. Add in the confusing labels and measuring tools, and many parents end up giving their kids the wrong dose. But researchers have identified a few things drug manufacturers can do to make it easier on you.

A new US study published in Pediatrics found that parents would make fewer errors if they used measuring cups or syringes in sizes that more closely matched the dose, if they were shown pictograms of the dose on the label and if they were given instructions and tools that used only millilitres—not teaspoons.

The study, which involved almost 500 parents of kids ages eight and under, asked parents to measure out three different doses three times, using a different measuring tool each time (a cup, a small syringe and a large syringe). Some parents received text-only instructions, while others got pictures; and some were given the doses in both millimetres and teaspoons. More than 80 percent of parents made at least one error in the nine doses, and 30 percent of parents doubled at least one dose.

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