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Flow Restriction Caps Lessen Chances of Children Overdosing on Medication

  • August 7, 2013
  • RPh on the Go

medication overdose in children Child safety packaging on medication has been commonplace for years in the United States. It prevents thousands of overdoses and deaths annually. The Poison Control Center receives an average of 500,000 calls a year after children have accidentally ingested medication. Studies also report that the number of children making trips to the emergency room due to medication overdose related events is on the rise. The Journal of Pediatrics recently published research finding that flow restriction caps on liquid medication were highly effective in preventing misuse. A flow restriction device is designed to continue to function even if a medication’s cap is missing entirely, or has been improperly secured.

Child safety medication packaging is designed to either prevent or significantly delay a child from opening medication. However, customers may not be able to respond quickly if their child has managed to open a childproof medication. Flow restriction caps would further prevent the child from accessing and possibly ingesting any medication. During clinical trials, flow restriction caps prevented children under 41 months from removing any medication from a bottle of liquid acetaminophen. The study went on to detail that flow restriction caps were able to be compromised in only 6% of the cases, whereas 96% of the medication without a cap, and 82% with a cap improperly secured–was able to be opened and removed by children. Liquid acetaminophen manufacturers made flow restriction caps standard in 2011.

Given their high rate of effectiveness, many researchers and medical professionals say that flow restriction caps should be available on a variety of liquid medications. Liquid antibiotics, painkillers, and even allergy medications are available in liquid suspensions for children and adults alike. Flow restriction caps will greatly reduce the number of incidents related to accidental overdose or ingestion that are seen on a yearly basis.

Pharmacies can do more research, and inquire as to whether common medications can be put into packaging which includes flow restriction caps for homes with young children. Pharmacies can also work to educate customers on the dangers of accidental overdose, and how to correctly reset caps which may have been improperly screwed onto a medication. Customers who happen to be parents, or are caregivers to young children, are the first barrier that protects children from accidentally ingesting medication. Some medicines are harmful even at smaller doses, and making customers aware of this will help to ensure medication is properly stored and handled in the home.

Ensuring that customers know how to properly handle medication when around children, and putting emphasis on not abusing it, is also crucial. Oftentimes, parents may tell children that a liquid medication tastes like candy or juice in order to entice them into taking a dose. This can lead to children attempting to obtain the medication out of a parent’s reach, and if they are able to–opening and ingesting the medicine inside. Informing parents of the dangers of treating medicine like candy or food is a critical step in preventing accidental overdose.

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