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A Child Experiences A Medication Error Every 8 Minutes

According to the National Poison Database System (US), a child is the victim of a medication error every 8 minutes – and these are not occurring in hospitals or pharmacies, but in their own homes.

Sometimes it happens when parents, tired and frazzled from caring for a sick child, accidentally double-dose or overdose their own children. Mistakes like this happen when the wrong dose for the child’s weight is administered, or when one parent gives a second dose, not realizing the other parent gave one already. This sort of problem can be eliminated by simply writing down times and doses on a piece of paper. Or, since pieces of paper can also get lost in the shuffle, perhaps using an app like RxPense® will help people keep track. After all, it is a matter of life and death at times!

Poison Control centers have been trying to educate parents to take more caution when it comes to giving medication, and in fact, certain errors have gone down in the past years. For example, errors in administering non-cough and cold medications declined, as well as asthma medications. Pharmacists have even removed certain products from the shelves, requiring parents to answer questions about their child in order to make sure the child will be receiving the correct medications and doses.

However, some very dangerous prescription medication errors are on the rise, most notably cardiovascular drugs, pain medications, anticonvulsants, and muscle relaxants. Those aren’t common children’s medications! Even more scary is the fact these are adult medications at adult doses. They can become lethal fast. So where are they getting them from and how?

The answer is we’re not storing medications safely out of reach of our little ones. We forget how fast these little darlings can be. You just turn your head for a second! They have a surprisingly long reach as well. Did you know the average toddler is able to reach objects at a height of about 3 feet? That’s roughly counter top or table top height. Even if they seem short, once these curious little ones get on their tippy toes, they can do remarkable and remarkably destructive things!

As we get older, we’re more likely to leave our easy-to-open bottles of medications willy-nilly on the table so that we don’t forget to take them with our meals. Then your daughter drops by with your little grand son and he wants to have a taste of all the colourful pills he sees in bottles. These sort of accidents can be prevented though!

Here are a few tips:

  • Store medications in a locked cabinet at all times if you have little ones around, or
  • If you are used to keeping your pill bottles on the kitchen or night table, gather them up and put them all on top of the fridge when you have special little guests. By putting them all in one place (fridge top) you’re not just keeping your little one safe, but you’ll remember where you put them later! Try to do this as soon as possible before or just after they arrive. Have your (adult) guests work with you to help you remember to do this. It’s for everyone’s safety.

Let’s work together to stop accidental poisonings in the home. One child every 8 minutes is too many!

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