Keeping Children Safe

 

On October 14, 2011, The New York Times published a story about a 13- month-old boy who died after swallowing pills from a prescription medicine bottle. His parents had given him the bottle to play with as a rattle, believing he could not open the child-resistant cap.

We received a report from a woman whose child began having seizures while taking a shower. The family immediately called for help. Paramedics took the 11-year-old child to a nearby hospital to be examined. All scans and x-rays were negative. Doctors then ordered blood tests on the child. It was found that the child had an elevated blood alcohol level. This was most likely the cause of the child’s symptoms.

A disturbing trend is occurring in some communities across the US: the “de-nursifying” of schools. As school districts grapple with tight budgets, many nurses have been laid off, and those that remain have been asked to cover multiple schools within the district.

Liquid medicines, especially those required for small children and pets, are often measured using oral syringes. Sometimes, there is a device that comes with the syringe called an adapter. This allows the oral syringe to directly attach to the bottle, eliminating the step of pouring the liquid into a cup for withdrawal by an oral syringe.Using a syringe adapter is a convenient way to accurately measure and administer liquids. However, depending on the actual product, parents should be aware they are not always childproof.

Acetaminophen is the most commonly used medication for pain and fever in infants and children. The drug is commonly known as Tylenol, but it is also widely sold under its generic name acetaminophen. Until just recently, there have been two forms of liquid acetaminophen available, children's, which is 160 mg per 5 mL and infants, which is actually more concentrated at 80 mg per 0.8 mL.

Many parents specifically ask their child's doctor for a prescription for an antibiotic when their child has a cold or sore throat. In fact, almost 75% of children's antibiotic prescriptions are related to these conditions. However, most of these infections are caused by viruses that do NOT get better with antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.

In the March/April 2007 issue of our our consumer newsletter, Safe Medicine, we published a report about concerns with over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines given to children. At that time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) felt that OTC cough and cold medicines did not lessen symptoms in children younger than 2 years old.

Two years ago, a Florida judge ruled that parents have a duty to read the drug information sheets that are given out with prescriptions for their children. The ruling was in response to a case involving a 3-month-old infant with an infection in her mouth (thrush). The baby's doctor had prescribed liquid nystatin to treat the infection. By mistake, the pharmacy dispensed a cold medicine containing a decongestant and an antihistamine.

A kindergartner was taken to the hospital on the first day of school after a teacher's aide accidentally gave him another child's medication. The 5-year-old boy became drowsy after he was given Catapres (clonidine), a blood pressure medication sometimes used to treat children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The answer is "YES" if you have someone age 12 to 25 living in your house. According to a 2006 survey recently released by the federal government, approximately 5 percent of people in this age group have used over-the-counter (OTC) cough or cold medicine to get high.

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