Thursday, September 4, 2014

Measuring Medicine

Just a spoonful of sugar can help the medicine go down.  But how much medicine are you taking.  Most of the time, that is an easy question.  The tablets come presized with 200 mg or 25 mg.  They might be scored for turning into half-sized tablets.  But what about liquids?  And more importantly, what about kids?

NPR published a story on the dangers of ineffective measurements.  Pediatric medicines require specific doses.  This is because kids come in all different sizes and side effects can cause serious problems.  But because kids don't like to swallow pills (even mixed up in apple sauce), many medicines are give as liquids.  Cough syrup, Tylenol, and Vancomycin all have versions as oral solutions.  So how much are you supposed to give the kid?  A teaspoon?  Tablespoon?  This can be a very important detail that leads to drastically different outcomes.  Studies show that neither teaspoon nor table spoon should be the best answer.  They are unreliable can mess up a child's therapy.

Instead, we turn to the more structured metric system.  You don't give the kid a teaspoon, but rather 5 mL.  You can give a syringe or graduated cylinder to help measure.  It's easier to measure, visualize and gives the right dose.  No matter what Mary Poppins says, the answer is not a spoonful.

No comments:

Post a Comment