A recent survey published in the journal Pediatrics concludes that children under the age of 6 experience frequent medication mistakes every 8 minutes.
The study was conducted using data from the National Poison Database System. This database is produced using 55 U.S. poison control hotlines. With tens of thousands of errors registered between 2002 and 2012, the study shows an ugly and ambiguous side of the medical act.
As Hillary Spiller, the author of the study says in an interview, the error concerned non-threatening events. Nonetheless, there were more than 200,000 children involved annually, with 25 children who died during the 11 years period as a result of medication errors.
Due to the possibility of using homeopathic and dietary supplements without clear prescription, their misuse was one of the most increased, 765 percent in the ten year period. Medication errors related to coughs and colds decreased from the mid 2000’s. However, errors related to cardiovascular drugs, muscle relaxants and antihistamines increased in the said period.
There is growing concern for how children receive medication. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a recommendation that children under the age of 2 should not use several drugs designed for asthma, colds and coughs.
Some of the most frequent medication mistakes included giving the drug twice, the wrong medication or the wrong dose. Those errors are unintended and some of them come from parents mistakenly organizing medication schedules among other household chores. These mistakes can result in overdose for young children, but they can also increase the cost of healthcare through additional corrective measures and can even lead to death.
The study is important due to its focus on medication behaviors at home, a different approach from the traditional studies that are focused on mistakes in medication facilities. As the author points out, care and attention are needed when the decision of dosing the drugs is made. Parents need to really focus on that moment and make the precise measurements in order to avoid frequent medication mistakes.
If necessary, Spiller said, they need to take a moment to pause before entering that moment, in order to avoid distraction. Another recommendation, made by the senior author of the study, Dr. Huiyun Xiang, included the use of smart technology: “Parents and caregivers can do their parts by using smart phone apps to schedule and track medication doses and by using measuring cups provided with liquid medications to give accurate doses”.