Parents' Poor Math Skills May Lead to Medical Errors

New research shows patients with poor math skills can increase the risk of medication errors for their children, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics news release.


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In this study, researchers looked at the relationship between both reading and math skills and medication dosing errors. Participants included 289 parents of children younger than 8 years of age who were prescribed a short course of liquid medication after being seen in a pediatric emergency department. Caregivers spoke either English or Spanish and were the primary person responsible for administering the medication. Caregivers were given three tests to assess their reading and math skills. Researchers also watched parents as they measured out a dose of the medication that had been prescribed for their child.

Results showed parents with math skills at the third grade level or below were five times more likely to measure the wrong dose of medication for their child than those with skills at the sixth grade level or higher. Observations showed that 41 percent of parents made a dosing error.

The researchers suggested strategies that target parents with poor math skills could reduce risk of dosing errors.

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