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Tips for Preventing Medication Errors in Children

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.

Source: AHRQ

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.