Did you know that every eight minutes a child under the age of 6 experiences a medication error (outside of the doctor’s office or hospital)? According to a 2014 study in the journal Pediatrics, every eight minutes some tired, distracted, or misinformed caregiver unwittingly gives her child the wrong dose or wrong medication!
It turns out that many of these errors are due to a momentary lapse in concentration. What parent can’t relate to that? I forget what I came into a room for regularly, and my kids now check to make sure they have their own lunch boxes daily after a few occasions when I accidentally reversed them. (Apparently, an eight year old boy suffers extreme embarrassment when packed a hot pink Hello Kitty lunch box.) I decided to ask a few friends if they have any experience with this and within minutes the stories started coming in. If I was responsible for regularly administering different medications to my kids (or pets or parents), no doubt there would be some slip ups like these:
- Anna from My Life and Kids wrote about the time her mom carefully wrapped the dog’s thyroid medication in a piece bread, covered it in peanut butter, and then ate it!
- While in the throes of extreme sleep deprivation from caring for her autistic teenager, two toddlers, and a newborn, Jessica from Four Plus an Angel brought her teen her pills and a glass of water; just as she was going to hand them over she absent-mindedly popped them in her own mouth and drank them down.
- Just last week, Stephanie from Binkies and Briefcases accidentally gave her mother Naproxen instead of Ibuprofen, after a quick glance at the bottles with similar brand names.
Any of us can understand how a moment of inattention can lead to an error like these. Luckily, these mistake all proved harmless, despite some embarrassing calls to poison control. I’m allergic to Naproxen and I’d be covered in hives (or worse) if I inadvertently took that instead of Ibuprofen. It’s easy to see how quickly we could make a potentially dangerous mistake. “Mom brain” is real, people, and it can be dangerous. So, when administering medications to those in your care, please take an extra moment to concentrate, check, and double-check yourself.
Some important tips for parents from the KnowYourOTCs site:
- Always read and follow the label.
- Always give the recommended dose and use the correct measuring device.
- Only use the medicine that treats your child’s specific symptoms.
- Never give two medicines with any of the same active ingredients.
- Never use cough, cold, or allergy medicines to sedate your child.
- Never give aspirin-containing products to children and adolescents for cold or flu symptoms unless told to do so by a doctor.
- Do not use oral cough and cold medicines in children under four.
- Do not give a medicine only intended for adults to a child.
- Stop use and contact your doctor immediately if your child develops any side effects or reactions that concern you.
- Keep all medicines — and vitamins, too — up and away and out of your child’s reach and sight.
- Teach your child about using medicines safely. Tell your children what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them. Never tell children medicine is candy to get them to take it, even if your child does not like to take his or her medicine.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by KnowYourOTCs educational program which has provided me compensation to write about the safe and appropriate use of OTCs. All content, views, and opinions are my own.