Medication errors involving children are not unusual. In a recent study, 33 percent of prescriptions written in pediatricians’ offices were not within the recommended doses, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Although it’s impossible for parents to prevent all medical errors, they can play a significant role in protecting their child’s health and life by being involved, asking questions, and learning about their child’s conditions and treatments.
Here are other ideas from the AHRQ:
Mention your child’s drug allergies every time he or she is prescribed a medication.
Find a pediatrician you trust. Ask for recommendations from friends and coworkers who are on your health plan.
Make sure all your child’s doctors know all the medications the child takes. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other alternative remedies.
When a doctor writes a prescription for your child, make sure you can read it. You should know the name of the medicine, what it’s for, how much your child should take, and how often. You also need to know the likely side effects; if it’s safe for the child to take it with other medicines; and if the child should avoid any food, drink, or activities while taking the medicine.
When picking up your child’s medicine from the pharmacy, ask, “Is this the medicine my child’s doctor prescribed?”
Ask questions about the directions on your child’s medicine labels. For example, ask if “four doses daily” means taking a dose every six hours around the clock or just during waking hours.
Ask your pharmacist for the best way to measure your child’s liquid medicine. For example, use a cooking measuring spoon to measure medications because household teaspoons often don’t hold a true teaspoon of liquid.
Make sure all health professionals involved in your child’s care have important information, such as any drug allergies or a chronic condition the child has. Don’t assume doctors and nurses know everything they need to know.