Accurate Liquid Medication Dosing
As the cold and flu season continues, you may see an uptick in children's liquid medications at the pharmacy, or even in your own family. When it comes to liquid medications, one study from the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that nearly half of caregivers gave a dose of medication that deviated more than 20% from what was prescribed after their child was discharged from the emergency department of a public hospital; 1 in 4 caregivers gave a dose that deviated by more than 40%. There are several ways to ensure safe medication administration.
- Measure in milliliters (mLs). The CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, and other organizations support the use of the milliliter (mL) as the standard unit of measure for oral liquid medications. For example, 2.5mL and not ½ teaspoons (tsp). Make sure to review both the prescription and the final label.
- Use the correct dosing device. Use the dropper, syringe, medicine cup, or dosing spoon that comes with the medicine. If the medicine does not come with a dosing tool, ask your pharmacist or doctor to give you one to use. Never use teaspoons, tablespoons, or other household spoons to measure medicine.
- Use the smallest device necessary. Liquid medication should be dosed using the smallest necessary dosing device to measure the dose adequately. For example, a 2.5mL dose should be dispensed with a 3mL syringe if possible – not a 1mL or 10mL device. In general, syringes are preferred over medicine cups.