Most of us don’t look twice at the dosages on our prescriptions. Milligrams, milliliters – these miniscule numbers mean little to us. All we need to know is how many pills or spoonfuls to take and how frequently to take them.
But ignorance isn’t always bliss, especially when the medication’s recipient is a child or even a baby. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that each year, more than 70,000 children are rushed to emergency rooms because of a medication overdose – and that’s not counting the uncommon but usually devastating situations in which hospital employees give young patients disastrously incorrect dosages of medication.
How Much Is Too Much?
Deciphering the fine print on prescription and over-the-counter medications can be almost as nerve-wracking as caring for a sick child is to begin with. You can get so preoccupied with warnings like whether the medication should be taken on a full or empty stomach that you could mistake the call for one teaspoon of cough medicine to say one tablespoon. The dosage charts on common over-the-counter pain and fever relievers, meant to make the process simpler, can be more confusing than helpful.
If you’re worried about a dosage error when giving medication to your child, always double-check the dosage instructions and the concentration of the medicine. Don’t be afraid to ask a pharmacist for help. Should an overdose occur, contact a Poison Control Center for help immediately.
The Tragedy of Professional Mistakes
All medication overdoses should be taken seriously, but overdoses involving the kind of medications given in hospitals can have even more severe effects than those involving over-the-counter medications. These headline-making medical mistakes can lead to long-term problems or even cause death. In 2006, a mistake at an Indiana hospital led to six babies receiving dangerously incorrect dosages of blood-thinning medication. Three of these infants died. Alarmingly similar cases have appeared in the news since, notably in 2007, 2008, and again in 2010, despite new standards established by the FDA and packaging changes initiated by manufacturers, CNN reported. Causes for the mistake ranged from pharmacy mixing errors to packaging and hospital stocking errors, but some babies received medication dosages as high as 1,000 time the recommended amounts.
In 2011, a fatal Brooklyn hospital medication error involved the antibiotic azithromycin, sold as Zithromax or Z-Pack. Zithromax has been linked to increased risks of cardiac events, including death. As if that risk was not enough, hospital employees gave the six-month-old patient a 500 milligram dose of the antibiotic – approximately six times the age-appropriate does of 80 milligrams – to treat a 100-degree fever, CBS News reported. Tragically, the baby suffered cardiac arrest and ultimately was declared brain dead.
As a parent, you trust medical professionals to provide care for your child. If a medication overdose or other error has harmed your child, you may be able to take action. Contact our lawyers to learn about your options and get help protecting your family’s rights.