Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dosage Errors for Kid's Medicine

I don't know about you, but I have a hard remembering how many ounces or teaspoons of medicine to give my kids when they are sick. Most of the bottles say to call a doctor if the child is under two. So, when my baby gets sick in the middle of the night, I am left with not knowing how much to give him.

I was looking at this medical website today that says our Pediatricians might not know exactly how much medicine to give our kids. I find this hard to believe, but the article says doctors aren't given enough training on the dosage amounts for kids.

The News-Medical net article said:
"Children pose particular prescribing problems, say the authors, because the absence of formulations designed specifically for them means that doses have to be individually calculated, increasing the chances of error.
And children are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of a mistake.
Previous research also shows that junior doctors often feel inadequately prepared to prescribe confidently, or don't know which drugs to prescribe for conditions, such as chest infections or anaphylaxis (life threatening allergic reaction)."

There is some good news. The information is partially based on a small survey of doctors . So, I would guess your doctor (as long as he or she has been practicing for a few years) feels more confident than the ones who were polled:

"The authors acknowledge that their research may not reflect a comprehensive picture of prescribing training, but there is currently no validated method of assessment, nor any national standards on the teaching of prescribing medicines for children."

The information is based on research found in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Now I am wondering if it is ever a good idea to give my kids medication. If you read my post earlier this week, you know The FDA is concerned about cough and cold medicine for kids. There may be proof they don't work. So, if there is no good training on how much medicine we should give our kids and the FDA says most of it doesn't work, should we be medicating them at all?

I definitely think ibuprofen and acetaminophen have dropped my kids' temperatures in minutes. When I look at all the other over-the-counter medication for kids, I am not sure if they really work. What are your thoughts?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Ms. PH said...

I have always trusted both Tylenol and Motrin for fevers and teething pain. The other medication that I know works for my son is the gas relief medicine. Otherwise, I do not use any other over the counter medication.

Of course, prescription medication works for what it is prescribed for in most circumstances (I am talking about non-antibiotic medication, which is another can of worms). I have never had a problem with the doctors not knowing how much to give. My problem has been with pharmacies making typos on the labeling. I have caught a few of these only because I knew how much of the medication to give and knew the label was wrong.

As far as remembering how much to give your kids in the middle of the night (particularly when you have two kids who might have different dosages), I write the dosage in big black Sharpie on the bottle with the child's initial next to it. Then I never have to try to read the fine print in the middle of the night or try to remember which kid gets what.

Knight in Dragonland said...

I don't know the doses for most over-the-counter cough & cold remedies because I never recommend those medications for upper respiratory infections. They have never been proven effective in children, and even if you could extrapolate from the studies in adults, those are either of poor quality or have equivocal results in most cases. In fact, several systematic reviews of the literature (meta-analysis) conclude that cough suppressants and antihistamines are not effective medicines for upper respiratory infections.

Every year there are thousands of poison control calls and hundreds of ER visits because of these medicines. Several deaths have been documented. If the medications were proven effective, it might be worth it ... but they have not.

Upper respiratory infections get better on their own. Rest. Push plenty of fluids. Control fever & pain with effective medications like Tylenol and Motrin. Provide humidity from a cool-mist humidifier and nasal saline (+/- suction) to clear nasal secretions.

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