Measure Medicine With Metrics, Not Spoons

NEW HYDE PARK, NY – A spoonful of sugar might be a good ruse to get kids to take medicine, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says a metric measure of the dose is the trick to prevent an accidental overdose. According to a statement published in Pediatrics, more than 70,000 children are admitted to emergency departments across the country every year due to medication overdoses. One of the biggest culprits is the spoon, which can be an ineffective and unreliable tool to measure proper dosages. “Some parents don’t even know the difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon,” said Minu George, MD, Interim Chief, General Pediatrics, Cohen Children's Medical Center. “Parents need to take an active role in their children’s health.” Confusing a tablespoon for a teaspoon can possibly double, or even triple, the recommended dosage of a medication. Even with the correct spoon, Dr. George warns, dosages can still vary wildly due to no set standard for a spoon size. Both the AAP and Dr. George are now pushing for using more precise tools, such as a dropper, to measure medicine. Dr. George also recommends that parents speak with a physician to make sure they understand the proper dosage for their kids’ medicine. “I always make sure parents can repeat what I told them. It’s also very important to get something in writing from the physician,” she said. Dr. George is no stranger to medication safety reform. Last year, she supported U.S. Rep. Steve Israel’s proposed legislation to require over-the-counter children’s liquid medication to have flow restrictors and other overdose-prevention devices.
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