A July 2017 Pediatrics study found that more than 80% of parents made at least one dosing error when measuring liquid medications for children.
For the study, "Pictograms, Units and Dosing Tools, and Parent Medication Errors: A Randomized Study" (published online June 27), researchers asked nearly 500 English- and Spanish-speaking parents with children age 8 or younger to measure three amounts of liquid medication (2 mL, 7.5 mL and 10 mL) using three dosing tools (cup, 5 mL syringe and 10 mL syringe).
Label instructions provided were either text-plus-pictogram or text-only, and dosing tools had units that were either mL/tsp or mL only. Parents using tools with a size that more closely matched the prescribed dose made the fewest errors, researchers said. For the 2 mL dose, the fewest errors occurred with the 5 mL syringe, for example. For the 7.5 mL dose, parents using the 10 mL syringe made significantly fewer errors compared to when they used a 5 mL syringe, which was too small to allow them to measure the amount with a single fill, which meant that parents would need to use math skills to correctly split the dose into two separate measurements.
In addition, parents who used text-plus-pictogram dosing instructions, as well as parents who used mL-only labels and tools had the lowest odds of making dosing errors.
Researchers said the findings are being used to help develop a comprehensive labeling/dosing strategy for pediatric liquid medications that they are now testing in a "real world" randomized trial.