Industry Group Provides Guide to Parents To Avoid Child Medication Mistakes
Following the release of a study this month that found children face a disproportionate risk of medication errors, a healthcare industry group has proposed new guidelines aimed at reducing the risk that children are provided the wrong dosage of drugs.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) issued a statement on October 20, the same day a study was published in the medical journal Pediatrics that suggested more than 60,000 children under the age of six suffer injuries or complications from medication errors each year, which is the equivalent of about one child every eight minutes.
The eye opening study found that most of the child medication mistakes occur when parents give their loved ones the wrong dose of a medication, or accidentally administer a double dose after forgetting they had already given their children one earlier. The research also noted that recent label changes made for cold and cough medicines resulted in a decrease in errors for children involving those drugs, while issues attributed to other medicines increased 37%.
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“The makers of over-the-counter medicines are encouraged to see that voluntary label changes to children’s cough and cold products have contributed to a reduction in medication errors in this category, and we remain committed to continuing our efforts to prevent all medication errors,” CHPA President and CEO Scott Melville said in the statement. “Through the CHPA Educational foundation, we work with government agencies and healthcare professional groups to remind parents of young children to always read and follow the label and to store medicines up and away and out of sight. Reading and following the label and using the proper dosing device that comes with the medicine are key steps parents and caregivers should always take to ensure they treat their children with care.”
In its statement, the CHPA gave a list of tips for parents that the group says could lower child medication errors across the board:
- Always read and follow drug label instructions.
- Do not give cold and cough medication to children under the age of 4.
- Always give the recommended dose, as measured by the measuring device provided with the drug. Do not exceed recommended limits.
- Only give a child a medication that addresses their specific symptoms.
- Do not give a child two medicines with any of the same active ingredients.
- Do not use cold and cough medications to sedate children.
- Do not give drugs containing aspirin to children unless recommended by a doctor.
- Do not give adult medications to children.
- Call their doctor immediately at the first sign of drug side effects in children.
- Keep all medicines out of reach of children.
The original study found that nearly 94% of the child medication errors that occur each year happen outside of the hospital and traditional healthcare facilities, with most occurring at home when parents are distracted.
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