ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. — According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, use of milliliters as a dosage measurement unit, as opposed to teaspoons and tablespoons, cut down significantly on medication dosing errors when parents administered medicines to their children.
With the use of teaspoons and tablespoons, medication errors were common. As many as 39.4% of parents made an error in measurement of the intended dose; 41.1% made an error in the prescribed dose. Furthermore, 16.7% used a nonstandard instrument.
Compared with parents who used milliliter-only, parents who used teaspoon or tablespoon units had twice the odds of making an error with the intended and prescribed dose.
“This study underscores the importance of standardizing dosing instructions, which [the Consumer Healthcare Products Association] has long supported as a way of helping parents to appropriately treat their children’s symptoms with over-the-counter medicines," the association stated in response to the study. “The makers of OTC medicines fully support using mL as the standard unit of measurement on all liquid OTC medicines. In 2009, CHPA expressed this industry commitment by adopting voluntary guidelines that specify mL as the preferred unit of measure. Alternatively, a mL unit can be used together with a ‘teaspoonful’, but manufacturers should avoid use of a ‘teaspoonful’ unit alone. The study affirms that consumers do understand instructions with milliliters."