Study: Many Parents Make Dosing Errors When Dispensing Liquid Medications

The researchers noted that 68% of the errors made involved overdosing.

Many parents made at least 1 dosing error when dispensing liquid medication, according to research published in Pediatrics from the National Institutes of Health.1 

H. Shonna Yin, MD, MS, of the Department of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine–Bellevue Hospital, New York, and colleagues noted that 85% of 2110 parents made at least 1 dosing error in 9 trials; 21% made at least 1 large error, measuring out more than 2 times the recommended dose. 

Dr Yin and colleagues randomly assigned parents to 1 of 5 study arms, all of which had different dosing tools and labels of medication. They noted that 68% of the errors made involved overdosing, and that use of a dosing cup was associated with 4 times increased odds of a dosing error, compared to when an oral syringe was used. 

“The study’s findings support the use of oral syringes over dosing cups, especially when small dose amounts are to be given to children,” according to a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).2 “The research is part of the SAFE Rx for Kids study, and findings will be used to develop optimized medication labels and dosing tools to promote the safe use of children’s liquid medicines.”


1. Yin HS, Parker RM, Sanders LM, et al. Liquid Medication Errors and Dosing Tools: A Randomized Controlled Experiment. Pediatrics. 2016; doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-0357.

2.  Parents Who Administer Liquid Meds Often Make Dosing Errors, Study Says [press release]. Elk Grove Village, IN; American Academy of Pediatrics. September 12, 2016.