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Baby receiving medication with a measuring syringe

Avoid a Medication Mix-up

Author: CHKD Medical Group
Published Date: Monday, October 31, 2016

By Daphne Hernandez, CPNP, Suffolk Pediatrics

Each year, tens of thousands of children are rushed to emergency departments as a result of unintentional medication overdoses. Pediatricians strongly urge parents and caregivers, as well as health professionals, to measure children's liquid medications in metric units, rather than by teaspoon or tablespoon.

Using a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon could result in a child receiving two to three times the recommended dose of a medication. It's best to use the dropper, syringe or dosing cup that comes with your child's medication. If one is not included, ask your doctor or pharmacist for one that should be used. Never use a kitchen spoon. For proper dosage information, always read the label.

Over-the-Counter Caution

It's always important to be careful when giving medicine to children, but this is especially true during cold and flu season when stores offer a variety of over-the-counter remedies. Parents often give a separate dose of fever reducer without realizing many cough/cold medicines already contain it. Pay close attention to labels for a list of ingredients and dosing information. Combining two or more medications can result in an overdose. Ask your CHKD pediatrician to recommend over-the-counter products for cough, cold and flu and review dosing instructions with your pharmacist if you have questions.

AAP: Top 5 Safety Tips for Dosing and Giving Liquid Medication

Other Important Medication Safety Reminders

  • Keep all – adult and child – medications out of reach of children, and keep childproof caps on the container.
  • Throw away expired medications. They can lose their strength and be harmful.
  • Never give a child an adult medication.
  • Do not mix medication with food or liquid unless recommended by your pediatrician or pharmacist.
  • If you think your child has taken too much medicine, call poison control at 1-800-222-1222.

Measurement Conversions

  • 1 teaspoon (tsp) = 5 milliliters (mL)
  • 3 teaspoons (tsp) = 1 tablespoon (tbsp)
  • 1 tablespoon (tbsp) = 15 milliliters (mL)

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.