How to Reduce Home Medication Errors Affecting Young Children

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has implemented a new policy to help reduce errors that occur when administering medication to babies at home.

According to the policy, published in the December 2021 issue of Pediatrics, these errors can occur for several reasons related to the frequency, formulation and use of expired products, as well as the way the drug is administered, prepared and stored. Children with special needs, chronic illnesses, or multiple medications may be at greater risk for errors.

The AAP believes that doctors and pharmacists can contribute to these errors if they do not provide parents with clear information about the instructions, units of measure, abbreviations used in the prescription, or changes in strength and strength. concentration. According to the AAP, approximately 21 million American parents have low health literacy, and they may not understand prescriptions, over-the-counter labels, measuring devices, information on active ingredients, or dosages based. on the weight. Parents who may not be as proficient in English (about 12% of American parents) may be even more at risk of misunderstanding and making mistakes.

In the new policy, the AAP recommends that physicians begin reviewing medications during office visits and making sure parents are using them correctly. Additionally, they advise parents to use the standard dosing and administration tool that comes with each medication rather than spoons. The reason? About 80 percent of the medicines given to babies at home are in liquid form, and kitchen spoons vary in size and shape, making them an inappropriate tool for measuring dosage.

Other policy recommendations include:

  • Improved communication between caregivers and health care providers
  • Simplified drug regimens (as much as possible)
  • Using mL for dosage units (rather than scoop-based or non-metric units)
  • Provide verbal advice in the caregiver’s preferred language, using a trained interpreter if necessary
  • The provider should consider including the patient’s weight so pharmacists can verify the dose
  • Teach caregivers how to safely dispose of unused medicines

Parents, if you are ever confused about how much medicine or dosage your child needs, or if you just have questions, don’t be afraid to contact your pediatrician. For more tips and information on how to give your baby the right dosage, check out these AAP tips.

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