All too often people confuse units of measurement or take the wrong dosage of medication due to mix-ups involving liquid doses, including:
- Tsp and tbsp (teaspoon and tablespoon)
- Teaspoon and milliliters
- Milliliters and minims
- Milliliters and drops
- Drams and milliliters
When doctors, nurses, or pharmacists mix-up units of measurement when dosing or administering medication to patients, or a patient accidentally takes the wrong dose of liquid medication, the results can be serious—even fatal. Unfortunately, confusing labels, the use of different abbreviations, and the way prescriptions are written can confuse patients and even healthcare workers.
While the examples listed above are some of the most common medication dosing mix-ups, confusion also occurs with medication cups. In fact, there are many different types of medication cups that are provided with liquid medicines. On one type of dose cup, medication might be measured in milliliters (mL); however, another cup may be labeled as oz., cc., tsp., tbsp.., or drams.
Confusion Due to Error Prone Units of Measure
Unfortunately, many people suffer because medication directions call for milligrams, but the medication device is marked in milliliters. For example, a doctor recommended diphenhydrAMINE for a child, and the child’s father purchased the drug, which came with a dosage cup. While the dosage cup was marked in milliliters, the directions on the label called for one or two teaspoons, which is 12.5 to 25 mg. Confusing? Yes!
Because patients can suffer serious medication errors due to mix-ups between dosages, in 2011, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices’ Board of trustees and staff announced their support for the complete adoption of the metric system for prescribing measuring liquid doses. Also that year, the FDA required over-the-counter drug manufacturers to make the units of liquid measurement (e.g., milliliter, teaspoon, tablespoon) match the measuring device as listed in the directions.
By drug manufacturers only using metric units in the directions and on the accompanying measuring cup or device now, consumers should be much safer. However, drug dosage mistakes in Texas and nationwide may still occur at hospitals and pharmacies. If a nurse’s mistake or pharmacy error was to blame for suffering harm from the wrong dosage, you may have a legal case. Contact Kennedy Hodges to speak with a Houston prescription error lawyer at 888-526-7616 for a free initial consultation, and request a free copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.