Research shows shortage of pediatric medication led to a spike of dosing errors in children
New research shows the shortage of pediatric medication in Canada last year led to a spike of dosing errors in children in Ontario.
The study examined the effect of the shortage of children's ibuprofen and acetaminophen, which forced parents to crush up pills intended for adults in order to treat their children.
The researchers found a twofold increase in calls to the Ontario Poison Centre for unintentional dosing errors of the medications for patients 18 years old or younger last fall, particularly in November 2022, compared to the four years prior.
Last fall, hospitals across the country were overwhelmed with really sick children as a particularly virulent strain of influenza circulated alongside respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. COVID-19 further complicated matters for children.
The surge forced children's hospitals in Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and London to cancel surgeries in order to free up staff and beds to deal with the problem.
Hospital officials said the lack of children's medication had a profound effect on its emergency departments. Doctors said they would often show parents how to cut up pills meant for adults.
Lead author Doctor Jonathan Zipursky says they did not find a corresponding spike in hospital visits compared to previous years.
But he says that does not mean no harm was done.
Parents anxiety levels were high and many children were not treated for fevers.
He says the research highlights the dangers associated with trying to use adult medication for kids.
The results were published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.