Inaccuracies in Administering Liquid Medication
Although pediatricians usually take great care in accurately calculating medication for their patients, the important processes of measuring and administering the dose are often overlooked. Many of the problems encountered in the administration of tablets and capsules to small children have been overcome by the production of medications in liquid form. However, the advantage gained in the administration of liquid products is often lost because of the inaccuracy of the devices used to measure and administer them.
Liquid doses may be inaccurate for several reasons. The measuring devices commonly used today include household spoons, cups, and specific devices provided by pharmaceutical manufacturers to be used with their products. Teaspoons are particularly poor measuring and administering devices. The measured capacity of the teaspoon has been shown to be within the range of 2.5 to 7.8 ml.1,2 In addition, teaspoons are a poor delivery device because they tip easily. Furthermore, the same spoon, when used by different persons, may deliver from 3 to 7 ml.3 Such variations may be related to factors such as pouring the liquids from different-sized bottles, the color of the liquids, and the adequacy of available light. Perhaps the most important factor in measurement is related to the care practiced by the person doing the measuring.
Although the American Pharmaceutical Association (in 1902) and the American Medical Association (in 1903) defined the "standard teaspoonful" as 5 ml, this recommendation has not been universally adopted.4 The practice of some pharmaceutical manufacturers of establishing doses in 4-ml and other fractions of a "teaspoon" tends to confuse the prescribing physician when it comes to instructing patients.
- Copyright © 1975 by the American Academy of Pediatrics