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Medication dosages for children: An issue for many paramedics

Having a child become so badly injured or seriously ill that paramedics have to be called is one of a parent's worst nightmares. We assume that paramedics and other emergency medical services (EMS) professionals have the training and skills needed to treat our little ones at the scene and while en route to the hospital.

However, a recent survey of more than 10,000 nationally certified paramedics indicates that one area where too many EMS practitioners admit to a falling short in treating children is knowing the correct dosage of medication to give them. A significant percentage (nearly 43 percent) said they knew of at least one instance where a child had received an incorrect dosage.

Most respondents (over 58 percent) indicated that they didn't feel they'd had enough training in treating pediatric patients. Further, over 47 percent said that they didn't have enough experience treating children to maintain the proficiency they had after their initial paramedic training. Perhaps that's because parents may be more likely to just throw their child in the car and rush to the nearest hospital than call 911 than they would an adult.

The combination of lack of pediatric education and experience can leave too many paramedics guessing at what dosage of medication they need to give a child to treat pain, burns, seizures or other issues they are experiencing in an emergency situation. Over a third of respondents admitted that they simply give children smaller doses than they would give a fully-grown person.

In emergency situations, EMS professionals do their best to stabilize and treat children until they can get to the hospital. However, if you believe that your child was further harmed by a dosing error, an attorney can help you determine what your options are.

Source: Journal of Emergency Medical Services, "Pediatric Medication Dosage Errors and Paramedic Training Needs," Sean Britton, NRP, CPH, CEM, accessed Oct. 05, 2017

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