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Confusing Children’s Medication Dosing May Cause Injury or Death

A new study from the New York University School of Medicine found that inconsistent dosing directions and medicine measuring devices may contribute to dangerous medication overdose in children. 
 
The researchers sampled 200 of the top-selling children’s medications, including: cough/cold, allergy, pain relief and stomach over-the-counter (OTC) liquid medication for children.  They found that dosing directions for many children's medicines are misleading and difficult for parents to understand. 
 
Dose instructions were inconsistent. While most parents expect medications to be measured in teaspoons or tablespoons, some dose instructions contained measurements in ounces, milliliters or even drams.  In addition, 90 percent of medications that came with a measuring device labeled with different units than in the dosing instructions.  More than 80 percent of the measuring devices had extra markings that weren't relevant to the medication dose in any way.  Almost 99 percent of all medications studied contained at least one inconsistency between the dosage directions and the included measuring device.  
 
The discrepancies between labeled dosage and the measuring device provided with the medicine could increase the likelihood of mis-dose or overdose.  There is even more of a risk of improper dosing when the liquid children’s medications did not come with a measuring device as required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One in four medications did not meet this guideline.
 
Some medications gave dosing directions by age.  In many cases, dosage can change dramatically depending on both the age and weight of the child. A small child may be given too much medicine if age guidelines are used.
 
The researchers recommend that a standardized measuring device be used and included in all non-prescription liquid medications, and they suggest that dosing units be standardized across all medications. They say that medicine directions should be revised  to be consistent with the markings on the enclosed measuring device.
 
They suggest these tips for parents:
 
• Read all directions before giving medication to your child.
 
• Know if you are measuring in teaspoons or tablespoons.  
 
• Use a medicine measuring device to dispense medication, not tableware.
 
• Check that the units of measurement for the dose match with those on the measuring device. If not, parents can buy a medicine measuring spoon at their pharmacy.
 
• If you have questions, call your doctor or pharmacist.
 
Misleading directions and mislabeled drugs can cause serious personal injury or even wrongful death.  If your child has been injured by a mislabeled medication, you may have a California personal injury claim.  To learn more, contact the Orange County personal injury lawyers at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis and Leslie, 866-981-5596.
 
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