Child Safety Tips for Using and Storing Medicine

Dec 5, 2018

Each year, thousands of children are treated in emergency departments after finding and ingesting medicine, or after accidentally being given the wrong amount.

Katie Article

With cold and flu season here, little ones are being treated for viruses, colds and coughs. It’s more important than ever for caregivers to fully understand appropriate dosing and storage of medications.

As a company that manages more than a billion prescriptions each year for millions of patients, Express Scripts is dedicated to making the use of prescription drugs safer and more affordable, and addressing this issue is important to us.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dosing errors (when a parent or other caregiver gives too much or too little medicine) are the most common type of medication error that brings children into the emergency room.

Pediatric medication often comes in liquid form and confusion about units of measurement can lead to dosing errors. It’s critical that parents and caregivers not estimate at measurements or guess the correct amount.

To prevent dosing errors, medical professional organizations recommend using milliliters (mL) when prescribing oral liquid medicines and that mL units be the only units appearing on dosing instructions, labels, and dosing devices (such as oral syringes and dosing cups).

Here are some important dosing tips from the CDC:

  • Know the Dose: Read all the information on the medicine label and follow the directions. Do not give a child medicine more often or in greater amounts than is stated on the package.
  • Measure the Right Amount: Always measure your child’s dose using the dosing device (oral syringe or dosing cup) that comes with the medicine.
  • Use the Right Tool: If you do not have a dosing device, ask your pharmacist for one. Do not use household spoons to give medicines to children.
  • Get Questions Answered: If you do not understand the instructions on the label, or how to use the dosing device, talk to your pharmacist or doctor before giving the medicine.

Proper Medication Storage Saves Lives

Each year, approximately 60,000 young children are treated in emergency departments after getting into medicines on their own or after dosing errors by adults. In addition to ensuring that children get the right amount of medicine, it’s just as important to make sure that medications are immediately returned to a safe storage location.

These are some safety tips for proper storage:

  • Choose a Safe Spot: Walk around your house to find the safest place to keep your medicines. The location should be up and away and out of the sight and reach of young children.
  • Lock the Safety Cap: Always relock the cap on a medicine bottle. If the bottle has a locking cap that turns, twist it until you hear the click or cannot twist anymore.
  • Put Medicines Away: After locking the safety cap, it’s important to always put medicines back in their safe storage location. Curious children act fast, so never leave medicine out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child’s bedside, even if you have to give it again in a few hours.
  • Remind Guests: Ask family members, houseguests, and other visitors to keep purses, bags, or coats that have medicine in them up and away and out of sight when they are in your home.
  • While Traveling: While staying with family or friends or at a hotel, find a safe storage place that is out of sight and reach of young children, like a high cabinet. If you’re in a hotel room, try the passcode-protected room safe for safe storage.
  • Be cautious of colors: Medications are colorful and attractive to children and can be mistaken for candy. For example, Tums® look like SweeTarts®, and aspirin resembles Skittles® or M&M’s®. Parents should not encourage children to take their medication by comparing it to candy, as this may lead to improper use.

Medications can keep us healthy but can be extremely dangerous if taken by the wrong person or in the wrong amount. Add in a child’s insatiable curiosity, and you have the ingredients for a very serious and dangerous situation. Fortunately, with a little vigilance, we can keep our little ones safe.

Author Bio

Lab Staff
comments powered by Disqus