AAP: Measure Children's Medicine in Milliliters

ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
January 30, 2017
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Better brush up on your understanding of the metric system; pediatricians are calling for children’s liquid medicines to only be measured in metric units.

The push comes as an initiative to reduce overdoses associated with mixups of teaspoons and tablespoons. Overdoses send tens of thousands of kids to the emergency room each year.

“Even though we know metric units are safer and more accurate, too many healthcare providers are still writing that prescription using spoon-based dosing,” says Ian Paul, MD, lead author of new metric dosing guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Some parents use household spoons to administer it, which can lead to dangerous mistakes.”

Paul says liquid medicines should be dosed out in milliliters (mL). Cups or syringes that come with the medicines should only include metric increments, and be no larger than the maximum dosage.

“For this to be effective, we need not just the parents and families to make the switch to metric, we need providers and pharmacists too,” said Paul.

Pediatric pharmacist Lois Parker adds that weight and body temperatures should be recorded in kilograms and Celsius to avoid errors in dosage.

“Weight is a source of medication errors because if the parent reports the weight in pounds and we base the dosing on kilograms that can lead to the wrong dose,” he explains.

No word on whether your directions to the doctors office will be mapped out in kilometers.

(via Reuters)

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