Pediatric medications help treat or manage your child’s health issues. However, you must make sure you’re not risking their well-being by making these common pediatric dosing mistakes and other errors.
Whether your child needs antibiotics for an infection or over-the-counter medications for a fever or cold, it is crucial to ensure that you administer pediatric drugs correctly. Understanding drug dosage in children and the potential risks of giving them the wrong amounts can help you avoid making errors that could harm your child’s health. These are the most common – and easy to avoid – mistakes that parents make concerning drug dosage in children:
1. Not Following a Dosing Schedule
Your child’s pediatrician should provide you with a dosing schedule for their medicine. A schedule helps ensure that you give your children the right amount of medicine in the correct timeframe so that it can work effectively without causing adverse effects. Without a schedule, you could end up administering medication doses too close together or give your child more doses in 24 hours than is safe.
2. Accidentally Repeating Doses
Even when you have a schedule, it can be easy to lose track of when you give your children medicine, which increases the risk of accidentally repeating a dose. Write down the times that you give your children their medication to avoid giving them too much within a short amount of time or going over the maximum number of doses per day. If you forget to give a dose, do not give your children double the amount of a normal dose to make up for it.
3. Not Checking Dosages for New Medicine
When your children begin taking a new medication, don’t assume that the dosage is the same as with previous medication, such as antibiotics. Always check with your pharmacist and read the prescription label for the correct dosage of new medications.
4. Using Medicine for Off-Label Purposes
Giving your children medicine for anything other than its designated purpose could have unintended consequences and endanger your child’s health. For example, some parents give children Benadryl or a similar medicine to make them drowsy before getting on an airplane or going for a long car ride, but this type of medicine can make some children more hyper instead of sleepy.
Since everyone’s body chemistry is different, you can’t predict how your child will react to medication meant for someone else. Antibiotics may seem safe to reuse, but there are dozens of types of antibiotics meant for different conditions. Giving your child the wrong antibiotic will not help them get better, and may even cause them to become resistant to the drug in the future.
5. Basing Drug Dosage in Children on Age
Pediatric dosing information on labels typically includes age and weight ranges. It is important to base your children’s correct dosage on their weight, not just their age. When you base it solely on age, you risk giving too high of a dose to children who are small for their age, which could have harmful effects. You also risk giving too low of a dose to children who are larger for their age, which limits the medication’s effectiveness.
6. Ignoring Medication Instructions
Certain medications need to be refrigerated to work effectively while others should be stored at room temperature. Certain medicines should be taken with food to prevent nausea while others should be taken on an empty stomach. Always read and follow the instructions on your child’s medicine to ensure that you are storing it and administering it as directed. Ask your pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns.
7. Forgetting to Check the Label
This is more common for parents who have a child taking more than one medication or parents with multiple children taking different medicines. Before giving any of your children any medication, read the label to make sure you are administering the right one. At best, your child will be taking an unnecessary drug. At worst, they could have a severe or life-threatening reaction.
If you give your child the wrong medication, or if they take medication unintended for them, call the Poison Control Center immediately and take them to the nearest emergency room.
If you have trouble getting your children to take medicine, a compounding pharmacy can prepare pediatric dosages in a more palatable form for children. We can create liquids and tablets in a variety of flavors.
For more information about drug dosage in children, contact Smith-Caldwell Drugstore at 501-392-5470 to speak with an experienced pharmacist.