A new research study has found that four in five parents are administering the wrong dose of liquid medications — in some cases more than twice as much as instructed.
Through a series of experiments to test whether 2,100 parents could follow common dosing instructions, over 80 per cent of participants made at least one mistake while measuring, and 68 per cent of the time that mistake was an overdose.
“Many parents rely on the small plastic cup that often comes included with liquid medication or use a spoon from home to administer liquid medication,” explains Pharmacy Manager Jason Chan-Remillard. “Unfortunately, these methods make it easy to inaccurately measure a child’s dosage.”
In fact, the study indicated parents are four times more likely to give their children either too much or too little medication when using a plastic cup. The researchers suggest using a syringe instead of a cup or spoon could prevent many dosing errors.
“If parents are using a plastic cup, it should be placed on a level surface and the measurement should be confirmed at eye level,” says Chan-Remillard.
Dosage confusion also stems from the fact that instructions for liquid medications are often found in an assortment of measurements, from millilitres to tablespoons, and are often based on the weight – in pounds or kilograms – of the child. This leaves room for calculation errors which could result in an overdose, or the child not receiving enough medication. If the child receives too little, their illness could go untreated.
Chan-Remillard encourages parents to ask for dosage guidance from pharmacists even for common over-the-counter medications.
“Giving children the right dosage is just as important as giving them the right medication. Don’t be afraid to seek advice from pharmacists. There are no silly questions. We are here to provide parents with general education about dosage or even specific recommendations tailored to the individual child. We can also provide appropriate dosing tools such as syringes and instructions about how to use them accurately.”
Reference: Liquid Medication Errors and Dosing Tools: A Randomized Controlled Experiment http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/09/08/peds.2016-0357
If you or your child has severe allergies, an auto-injector such as EpiPen is a lifeline for potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis awareness, preparedness and access to treatment is critical for children with severe allergies now back at school.
At London Drugs, the price for EpiPen remains constant and the important allergy medication is fully stocked at all of our 78 stores.
For children with severe allergies, the start of a new school year is an important time to check expiry dates and update their prescriptions, including any anaphylactic medications. Our London Drugs pharmacists suggest parents ensure they have an emergency plan in place, after a study found a ‘worrisome increase’ in anaphylaxis cases among children.
The study revealed that the percentage of emergency department visits due to anaphylaxis doubled over the four-year research period. Only slightly more than half of children in the study who visited the emergency department due to anaphylaxis used an auto-injector prior to their arrival.
“While awareness in schools about severe allergies has grown, there is a lag in understanding when it comes to using auto-injectors such as EpiPen,” says London Drugs Pharmacist Jason Chan-Remillard. “Parents, caregivers and teachers should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and know how to initiate treatment. Understanding how to administer epinephrine in an emergency is just as important as other lifesaving skills like CPR or the Heimlich maneuver.”
Parents of children with severe allergies should work with teachers and caregivers at the start of each school year to create an action plan with an explanation of the child’s allergy triggers, what to do in case of reaction, where they have access to epinephrine and how to administer emergency anaphylactic treatment.
“It’s especially important for lunchroom personnel to be aware of children’s health status. Often times, that requires the parents to speak with them directly about their child’s allergy triggers,” adds Chan-Remillard.
There is sometimes a misconception that peanuts are the only trigger for severe food allergies. In actuality there are nine food allergens commonly associated with allergic reactions; eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, sesame seeds, soy, sulphites, tree nuts, wheat and other cereal grains that contain gluten.
Epinephrine auto-injectors expire so it’s important to check dates and update prescriptions when necessary. Expired auto-injectors can be properly disposed of in the sharps disposal bin at London Drugs pharmacies and our pharmacists can provide re-education about how to self-administer EpiPen.
Osteoporosis is often called the ‘silent thief’ because bone loss occurs without symptoms unless one has fractured. According to Osteoporosis Canada, hundreds of thousands of Canadians needlessly fracture bones each year because their osteoporosis goes undiagnosed and untreated.
Take a proactive approach to protecting your long-term bone health by attending a London Drugs Osteoporosis Screening Clinic*. During the 45-minute, one-on-one consultation, your Patient Care Pharmacist will provide a one-on-one screening to measure your bone strength with an ultrasound bone measuring device and assess your risk for falls and fractures. You will be provided with an assessment, tips on how to minimize your risks and a personalized action plan to fit your wellness goals.
Book your appointment online at London Drugs’ NEW pharmacy website.
*A small fee applies for this service, for which a tax deductible receipt will be issued.
There’s been a lot of emphasis the last few decades on the issue of “polypharmacy”, that is, patients who are taking too may drugs.
This is especially a concern, of course, for the elderly, who cannot tolerate most drugs as well as younger people can, and who also tend to develop far more complications from their drugs than younger people do, in part because seniors like me tend to have multiple health problems, and those problems can often affect how a particular medication works in us.
Plus, because seniors are often on a lot of medications, many seniors don’t fully understand how to take their meds, when to take them, when not to mix their pills, and so on, which also leads to a lot of preventable medication-related problems.
To illustrate how much of a problem this can be, in a recent study published in the journal Age Aging, over 750 “patients aged 60 and over who were taking five or more prescribed drugs simultaneously were asked about their medication”.
Only 15 % of these patients fully understood the nature of their medication use, and no surprise here, men, those taking the most meds, and the most elderly were the worst at knowing all they should know about their drugs.
So if you have to take any drugs regularly, even if it’s only 2 or 3, here’s a strategy that really cuts down on the potential pitfalls from using those meds: make your pharmacist into a very good friend.
It’s what I do: whenever I have to start on a new drug – I have had to change my blood pressure medication several times over the last couple of years, for example – I always try to ask my pharmacist about that new drug such as what are the likely side effects, what are some of the less common but more serious side effects I should look out for, when should I take my pills, with what can I take them, and how will this new pill react with the ones I’m already on, and so on.
In fact, if you’re taking 5 or more medications, there is a program called the Medication Review Service which specifically aims to answer all those questions – and some you haven’t even thought of – to help educate you about the drugs you are taking.
And one other useful medication-taking strategy that can be help a lot of people is the blister- packing service, which can help those of us who are somewhat forgetful about when to take our pills to actually take them at the time we’re supposed to.
See your pharmacist today to make sure you’re on the right track with your prescriptions.
If you believe you can boost either your IQ or even your memory by buying one of those apps that promise to “train” your brain, you may want to hold on to your hard-earned dollars just a tad longer because you may not be getting your money’s worth when you purchase such a program.
At least not according to a recent study published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National (US) Academy of Sciences. Specifically what these researchers concluded by looking at a bunch of studies that measured brain performance after brain training is that although these apps and programs can improve memory or IQ a slight bit, that effect is mainly due to a placebo effect because simply knowing that you’re taking a brain training app is enough to have a small positive effect on your cognitive abilities, which fits what most “memory experts” have been saying for a long time, that is, that the science behind these memory training apps is very scant at best, and that you should be wary about their positive promises.
But if you want to maintain or even improve your brain function, don’t get too discouraged by this news because there is at least one well-established way to do that and that is to do some regular exercise, which has proven time and again to have a positive effect on brain function. Plus, it can be done for free.
Summertime and yes, the living is easy, but on that ever-present other hand, the living can also be hard, especially on your skin – something you all know, I’m sure – but here’s the one you may not know, summertime is also very hard on your eyes.
Because long-term excess sunlight exposure raises the risk of at least two very common eye disorders.
One is cataracts which are “hardenings” in the lens of the eye (usually in both lenses, of course) and which eventually very often result in the need to have surgery to remove one or both lens.
That risk has been known for a long time but the eye problem linked to sunlight that’s been discovered more recently is macular degeneration (that’s a more recent link), the most common cause of blindness in North American seniors.
So if you want to see well into your senior years, and trust me, you do, you really want to protect your eyes from too much sunlight.
To that end, buy a good pair of sunglasses, and try to wear those sunglasses as often as you can when outside (remember that you still get some UV exposure even on cloudy days), and remember, too, that some surfaces such as water magnify the effect of sunlight on your eyes.
But be especially careful to wear your sunglasses on sunny days even if you are planning on being outside just for a few minutes.
National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day is May 21st #RXDrop2016
National Prescription Drug Drop-off Day aims to promote the safe storage and disposal of prescription drugs and reduce the amount of drugs available in people’s homes for possible abuse and accidental poisonings.
Many prescription drugs that have a high potential for misuse come from the medicine cabinets of friends and families. In addition, improper disposal of unused drugs can have harmful environmental impacts if they end up in the garbage or sewer system. To reduce the potential harms of prescription and over-the-counter medications on individuals, families, communities and the environment, pharmacists recommend cleaning out your medicine cabinet at least once per year.
Five Tips for Cleaning Out Your Medicine Cabinet
Visit londondrugs.com/medicationdisposal for more information.