Approximately 5.21 million mothers and 214,000 fathers identify as stay-at-home parents, but even those who stay at home to care for their children may be making a critical error when it comes to medicine.
A new study suggests that parents are making dosing errors when giving medicine to their children. Luckily, a syringe could be the solution to that problem.
“When parents used dosing cups, they had four times the odds of making a dosing error, compared to when they used an oral syringe,” said Dr. Shonna Yin, an associate professor at NYU Medical School and a co-author of the study.
Pain relievers and countless other medications designed for use on children come in a liquid form, but dosage cups aren’t always the most accurate measuring tools.
When accuracy is of the utmost importance, oral syringes are considered the best tool for the job.
However, measuring devices aren’t the only factor tripping parents up. Things like packaging, labeling, and dosing information aren’t standardized, either.
“A range of measurement units (eg, milliliter, teaspoon, tablespoon), along with their associated abbreviations, are used as part of instructions on labels and dosing tools, contributing to confusion and multifold errors,” wrote Yin.
However, Yin isn’t the only one trying to keep children safe when it comes to medical care.
Dr. Sosamma Methratta, division chief for pediatric radiology at Penn State Children’s Hospital, works closely with the principles set forth by the Image Gently Alliance, which works to improve safe and effective imaging for children around the globe.
“The risks of the radiation are incredibly small, but still, we try to eliminate them when we can,” Methratta said.
Because the cells in children’s bodies aren’t fully mature, they’re more sensitive to radiation and have a greater potential to be damaged.
Methratta recommends that parents ask what kind of tests involve radiation and if the hospital has an alternative to any of those.
However, Methratta also notes that parents shouldn’t be unnecessarily concerned.
“The reason the test was ordered is because there is an issue we are concerned about. It would be a disservice to the child not to do the test — to let nature take its course or to guess at the diagnosis,” she said.
While Methratta works in a hospital setting, Yin’s study aims to make parents more aware in the home.
“Similar to what other studies have found, our study found that parents with lower health literacy are at greater risk for making dosing errors,” said Yin.
She noted a variety of factors, such as English as a second language, could also be difficult hurdles to overcome.
Yin and her colleagues are currently advocating for a standard change to oral syringes for parents to reduce dosage errors.