With over 10,600 phone calls about accidental medicines exposures and 4,391 calls about dosing errors made to the NSW Poisons Information Centre in one year—all in children 0-14 years—NPS MedicineWise is reminding parents and carers of the importance of being medicinewise with children this Be Medicinewise Week.
Today Be Medicinewise Week ambassador Jimmy Rees (Jimmy Giggle from ‘Giggle and Hoot’ on ABC Kids) was leading parents in Australia’s largest weigh in to raise awareness on the importance of dosing by age and weight to avoid accidental overdosing.
Recent polling conducted for NPS MedicineWise shows parents are feeling unsure about many aspects of giving medicine to children including how much medicine to give, whether to expect side effects and how to know if the medicine is working.
Parents of children aged four years or younger were the most likely to be confused about administering medicine to children, while 43% of parents surveyed said they occasionally or regularly took an educated guess on the medicine dose. This method can cause medication errors.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to spread the word about how small mistakes can cause big problems in little bodies when it comes to children’s medicines,” says Jimmy Rees.
“I’m a dad, I work with kids and entertain kids across Australia, so I’m happy to spread the word on how important it is to accurately give children medicine to avoid accidental overdosing.
“This Be Medicinewise Week is a great time for us all to learn a little more about children’s medicines. Some of the top tips I’ve learnt are—be prepared, read the label, weigh your children regularly as it’s important for working out dosage, know how to use measuring devices, keep records of doses and be safe and responsible with medicines around the home.”
When surveyed parents were asked about the medicines issues that confused them:
- 19% reported feeling confused about whether to expect side effects;
- 18% were confused about dosage/how much medicine to give;
- 18% were unsure about how long their child should take the medicine;
- 18% indicated confusion about whether or not the medicine is working; and
- 14% replied that dosage devices can be hard to use.
Sarah Spagnardi, manager of the NPS Medicines Line says, “There are many children’s medicines available, in many formulations and many come with their own, separate dosing devices. So it’s not surprising that the survey picked up on a level of confusion.”
The most common calls about children and medicines made to the pharmacists on the NPS Medicines Line are about what age a child can use a medicine, when can medicines be used together and if the recommended dose is right for a particular child.
“No one wants to see figures rising for medicine mistakes in children,” says Spagnardi.
“That’s why this Be Medicinewise Week we are reminding parents and carers about the importance of accurately measuring and administering medicine.”
She encourages Australians to ask for dosing guidance from their doctor or pharmacist if they are confused.