Don't Miss the (Decimal) Point

 

Liquid medicines given in amounts less than 1 milliliter (mL) can be confusing. If a decimal point is overlooked, it can result in a 10-fold overdose. In one case, a mother picked up a prescription for Reglan (metoclopramide) syrup for her baby. Reglan is a medicine for stomach acid reflux.

The mother bought an oral syringe to give her baby the medicine. The correct dose was 0.7 mL every 6 to 8 hours. But the mother did not see the "0" and the decimal point, so she thought the dose was 7 mL. The mother gave her baby 10 times more medicine than needed. After several doses, the baby was hospitalized for 2 days but recovered. Carefully read all medicine labels, and double check the dose to be sure you don't miss a decimal point.

Created on May 1, 2005

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