When a child wakes up sick with a fever, many parents will run to the medicine cabinet to get their little ones some medicine for relief. But, a recent study shows that many parents are giving the wrong dose.
It's easy for parents to get the dosage wrong when it comes to liquid medication.
Doctor Eva Love of Cleveland Clinic Children's did not take part in the study, but says that avoiding the confusion about how to measure medicine can go a long way in preventing dosing errors.
"What's important is to homogenize the way we talk to parents about medication administration. And I think, clearly, with the recent study that's come out and subsequent studies to that, just talking to parents in terms of milliliters is the best approach," she says.
One out of five parents who took part in the randomized controlled trial measured more than twice the directed dose, and nearly all of them measured inaccurately to some degree, according to study authors.
Researchers are recommending that pediatricians give dosage directions in milliliters, instead of teaspoons or 'cap-fulls,' to help parents avoid making mistakes.
And the tool that parents use can greatly influence their chances of getting it right.
The study showed the use of dosing cups was associated with more than four times the odds of making an error compared to when a syringe was used.
Experts say it's important for parents to learn how to use a medication syringe correctly from either a doctor or a pharmacist.
"Have someone show you in the office, because sometimes even where the plunger line is, is confusing to parents. So if you're unclear, I always say, 'Let me show you,' we can draw up a little bit of water in the office and I can show you with a syringe," says Dr. Love.
Liquid medication syringes can be obtained from any pharmacy or pediatrician's office.
Complete results of the study can be found in the journal Pediatrics.