Medication errors can be devastating in children. Their small size and
low body weight makes them ill-equipped to handle dosage errors and other mistakes.
According to a 2012 study published the
Journal of Pediatric Nursing, many mistakes are preventable. Researchers found that heavy workload
of nurses, distraction, and poor communication were the three leading
causes of medication errors involving children.
The risk for medication mistakes is high because most drugs are formulated
for adults. Therefore, doses for children must be carefully calculated
and regulated. When doctors and nurses fail to take the proper precautions,
the results can be fatal.
While the risk of a medication error is certainly unsettling, there are
steps parents can take to help keep their children safe. As
San Diego medical negligence attorneys, we would like to share the following medication safety tips:
- The single most important way you can help to prevent errors is to be an
active member of your child's health care team.
- Make sure that all of your child's doctors know about everything your
child is taking and his or her weight. This includes prescription and
over-the-counter medicines, and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs.
- Make sure your child's doctor knows about any allergies and how your
child reacts to medicines. This can help you avoid getting a medicine
that can harm your child.
- When your child's doctor writes you a prescription, make sure you can
read it. If you can't read the doctor's handwriting, your pharmacist
might not be able to either. Ask the doctor to use block letters to print
the name of the drug.
- When you pick up your child's medicine from the pharmacy, ask: Is this
the medicine that my child's doctor prescribed?
- Ask for information about your child's medicines in terms you can understand—both
when the medicines are prescribed and when you receive them at the hospital
or pharmacy. Common questions include: How often is my child supposed
to take it, and for how long? What side effects are likely? What do I
do if they occur? Is this medicine safe for my child to take with other
medicines or dietary supplements? What food, drink, or activities should
my child avoid while taking this medicine?
- If you have any questions about the directions on your child's medicine
labels, ask. Medicine labels can be hard to understand. For example, ask
if "four doses daily" means taking a dose every 6 hours around
the clock or just during regular waking hours.
- Ask your pharmacist for the best device to measure your child's liquid
medicine. Also, ask questions if you're not sure how to use the device.
If your child or someone you love has suffered serious harm due to medication
error, don’t hesitate to contact
a San Diego medical negligence attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage
for a free consultation.