Confusing Marks on Oral Syringes


A child's mother brought a prescription for Reglan (metoclopramide) syrup to the pharmacy. When the prescription was ready, the pharmacist showed the mother how to measure the medicine dose with an oral syringe. The mother then realized that she had not been measuring her child's dose correctly for another medicine, Zantac (ranitidine) syrup. This prescription had been filled at a different pharmacy.

The mother had been given an oral syringe that had two markings for measuring the dose. On one side, the syringe had measurement marks for milliliters (mL); on the other side, it had marks for an outdated pharmacy measure called minims. The mother had been measuring the Zantac using the old outdated scale. Instead of the right amount of 3.5 mL, the child had been given 3.5 minims (0.23 mL), about 15 times less than prescribed. The child had received the wrong dose for 5 days but was not harmed. When you purchase liquid medicine from the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist to show you how to measure the dose using an oral syringe, dropper, or dose cup. Then show the pharmacist how you would measure the dose to make sure you understand correctly. Most syringes do not have the older measurement marks on them, but make sure any liquid medicine is measured using the mL markings.

Created on May 1, 2007

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