Medication safety: Tips for parents

Medication safety: Tips for parents

It is important for you know about any medicines your child is taking. It’s also important that your child knows about them too. This can help prevent errors happening with medicines.

Key points to remember

  • be actively involved in your child's health care
  • get information that you can understand
  • speak up if you have any questions or concerns - it's OK to ask

Why is it important for you to know about your child's medicines?

Unfortunately, errors with medicines do happen. They can happen in hospitals, at your doctor's clinic, at the pharmacy and even in your own home. Sometimes these errors can cause harm.

It is important for you to know about any medicines your child is taking. It’s also important that your child knows about them too. Being well informed is an important step towards preventing errors with medicines.

What can you do?

Keep your doctor up to date 

Tell the doctors about every medicine your child is taking at home. This includes any vitamins, minerals, traditional medicines, herbal or homeopathic remedies that your child receives with or without a prescription.

Tell your doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you are breastfeeding

If you are breastfeeding your child and you are taking medicines, tell your doctor, pharmacist or nurse. This is so your healthcare team can check that it's OK for you to continue to breastfeed your child. There are rare occasions when some medicines are not suitable for breastfeeding mums.

Tell the doctor, nurse or pharmacist if your child has any allergies 

If your child is allergic to something, let the doctor, nurse or pharmacist know as well as how your child reacts to medicines. This can help your healthcare team to avoid giving your child a medicine that could cause harm.

Know your child's weight

The dose of your child's medicine may depend on their weight. As your child grows, their dose may change.

Check with a doctor or nurse before giving medicines in hospital

All medicines given in hospital must be checked to ensure that they won't cause any problems for your child. If the nurses have told you it's OK to self-administer the medicines to your child it is still very important that the nurses know every time you give the medicine so that it is recorded in your child's notes.

Ask questions

When someone is giving medicine to your child, always ask what it is. This double check will help ensure that your child gets the right medicine. Every time nursing staff give a medicine they should double check your child’s identity.

Medicine labels can be hard to understand

If you have any questions about the directions on the medicine labels, always ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before you take the medicine home. 

Never give any medicines that belong to another family member

Only give your child medicines that a doctor has prescribed specifically for them.

Store medicines out of reach of children, in a locked cupboard

It's important to store medicines correctly. Only keep medicines in the fridge if the label says to do so. Keep medicines that need to be in the fridge on the top shelf at the back. Ask your pharmacist for child lock lids for all medicines you have in your house.  

Ask your pharmacist or nurse for the best way to measure liquid medicine

Special measuring spoons are available to help you measure the right dose. Ask your pharmacist to show you how to use the measuring spoon.

Adapted from Auckland District Health Board. February 2012. 'Medication safety: Information for parents'.  

Medicaton safety parent information pamphlet (Auckland District Health Board)

Starship Foundation and the Paediatric Society of New Zealand would like to thank the Starship Medication Safety Committee and Principal Pharmacist - Medication Safety at ADHB (Auckland District Health Board) for providing this information for patients and their families.

© 2012 Auckland District Health Board.

This page last reviewed 23 March 2015.
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