03/30/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Is A 'Spoonful' Of Medicine Dangerous?

When you need to take liquid medicine, do you reach for the kitchen spoon? If you do, you're not alone but most likely you're not measuring the dosage accurately and it could be disastrous.

A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who use a kitchen spoons to pour liquid medicine aren't getting the right dosage.

Measuring Precisely is Vital

Ask any pastry chef or professional baker, and they'll tell you that using exact measurements in baking is critical for a successful end product. Using the proper measuring tools in the kitchen can make all the difference between a delectable dessert and a disastrous one.

Nurse or Doctor

Ask any nurse or doctor, and they'll tell you that using exact measurements when it comes to pouring your child's medication is critical. Using the proper measuring tool is extremely important to provide accurate administration of the dosage.

Don't reach for the kitchen spoon

A proper measuring tool is NOT a kitchen spoon that you use for food. It may be the first thing you want to reach for, but it's not the most accurate. Using a kitchen spoon to measure liquid medicine has caused major dosing errors and pediatric poisonings, according to a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers found that people administer the wrong dose of medication when using a kitchen spoon. During cold and flu season, Cornell University researchers asked 195 university students, who were recent patients at the university health clinic to pour out five ml (one teaspoon) of cold medicine into varying size kitchen spoons.

Kitchen spoons are not all the same size. The researchers found that people underdosed by 8.4 percent when using a medium size spoon and overdosed by 11.6 percent when using larger spoons. Pouring one teaspoon or five ml or five cc of liquid medicine into a large spoon is difficult to do and it's not an exact measurement.

Make sure you use the proper tools.

Measuring tools to use to administer liquid medications

• Dosing Spoon
• Measuring Dropper
• Dosing Syringe
• Dosing Cup

My favorite is the dosing syringe but the dosing cup is really easy to use also. Find what you like and use what is easiest and best for you.

Like the professional baker, you need to make sure they use the proper measuring tools when administering liquid medications. You need to make sure the exact dosage is given to you and your kids to avoid any dosing errors that can be potentially hazardous.

I checked out Walmart online and found that you can purchase the dosing syringe, dosing spoon and medicine dropper there.

We'd love to hear from you. How do you measure your medicine? Your child's medicine? What measuring tool do you use?


[Source: Spoons Systematically Bias Dosing of Liquid Medicine. Brian Wansink and; Koert van Ittersum. Ann Intern Med January 5, 2010 152:66-67]