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Dosing with spoons will lead to under- or overmedication

At some point in our lives, most of us have been given a prescription for a liquid medicine. Liquid medicines, though generally as effective as pill-based medicine, do have one major drawback, it is up to the patient or his or her caretaker to measure out and administer the medicine. Unfortunately, this means that many people are being under- or overmedicated. Sometimes these medication errors can lead to serious injuries or even death.

One way in which patients can be improperly dosed is if a patient or caretaker uses a spoon to measure medicine. And if neither the prescribing physician or the pharmacist explains that it is important to measure out medicine in milliliters, some patients may not realize they aren't taking the proper amount of medicine.

It would also be relatively easy to eliminate the risk of medication error if doctors and pharmacists would just prescribe a certain number of milliliters instead of in teaspoons. If the directions say to "take 5 milliliters" of medicine, patients would need a measuring container that lists various volumes. If the directions are listed in teaspoons, a patient may wrongly assume a kitchen spoon will be fine.

Medicine can be extremely important when someone is sick, but not getting the right amount of medicine can be injurious. Too little and it may not do enough to get a patient better. Too much and it could cause a new medical condition. And if doctors are prescribing medication that patients must measure out themselves, they should do everything in their power to ensure patients are getting the right amount of medicine.

Source: Boston Globe, "Spoonfuls Can Lead to Medicine Errors, Study Finds," Lindsey Tanner, July 14, 2014

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