Children Become Victims of Medication Mistakes Every Eight Minutes
After reviewing a decade of poison control hotline data, researchers determined that 63,358 children were the victim of a medication mistake each year, Reuters reported. According to Forbes, 400 suffered serious injury and 25 died in that 10 years.
Both Forbes and Fox News suggested those numbers may actually have been higher, since some parents may not have realized their mistake, others may have turned to Google instead of the poison control hotline, and still more may have been worried about the police getting involved.
Who’s Making These Mistakes and How Can They Be Prevented?
“Most studies have focused on medication mistakes in healthcare facilities like hospitals,” Reuters said. “Less is known about mistakes that happen with children’s medicine at home.”
Researchers found that approximately 25 percent of the errors studied were due to parents giving their child a double dose. Eighty-two percent involved liquid medicine, per Fox News. With regard to the latter statistic, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that children are more likely to take liquid medicine.
Study co-author Henry Spiller, who serves as director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, recommended that parents ensure they’re giving their child the right drug, the correct dosage, and to focus on the task at hand. Communication is also key.
“A lot of these medication errors occur [d]uring these distracted periods,” he said. “What typically happens is, the mother goes in and gives the children a dose, then cares for another kid or makes dinner. The father comes in and wants to help and gives the child a dose. And then they talk, and they found they double-dosed their child.”
The CDC has said, “Parents are more likely to make mistakes when giving medicines to infants and toddlers than to older children.” In fact, children under age 1 were the most common victim of a medication mistake, according to this 2002 to 2012 study.
Senior author Dr. Huiyun Xiang, who serves as professor of medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, suggested that parents download an app that helps schedule and track what medication they’ve administered and how much. He also advised using the measuring cups that come with liquid medications.
The CDC is working to take the confusion out of labeling and instructions by “standardizing measurements for liquid medication to millimeters rather than teaspoons or tablespoons, and placing zeroes before decimal points on dosage labels,” Fox News said.
In the meantime, companies are taking matters into their own hands. For instance, Tylenol has posted a safety chart that tells parents how many teaspoons or tablets to give their child, based on his or her weight.
We hope the above tips help you during cold and flu season. If you believe a medical professional made a medication mistake that resulted in serious injury or death, attorney Chris Mellino welcomes you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation before Ohio’s statute of limitations expires on your potential claim. You may also download Chris’ free, easy-to-read guide, Your Ohio Medical Malpractice Questions Answered, read testimonials, and learn about previous case results.