Pediatric Associates of Richmond

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Medication Dosing Abbreviations & Errors

Helping you to understand which medications are right for your child and helping you learn how to administer them are important parts of our role as pediatric health care providers.   Dosing errors for children’s medications are easy to make as the amount of medicine needed varies by factors such as age, weight and the concentration of medicine.   Electronic medical records have provided several improvements in prescription writing over the days of the scribbled note on a prescription pad. Technology provides many error checks for physicians and pharmacists, in addition to the convenience of an electronically transmitted prescription sent directly to the pharmacy.

It is important for the parent or caregiver to understand which medicine is being given to the child and have a brief understanding of how that medication will work.  They need to also understand when the medicine is to be given and for how long. Most importantly, parents need to be aware of the best ways to dose medications.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a policy statement on how to correctly dose medications.  They favor using only metric units to express how much medicine is to be given rather than common household words such as ‘teaspoon’.  Often, these terms or abbreviations such as ‘tsp’ can be commonly mixed up between teaspoon and tablespoon, or similar errors.   As one tablespoon is equivalent to THREE teaspoons, it is easy to see why this common mistake may be so dangerous.

The AAP also stressed the importance of dosing the medicine using a device specifically designed for medicine administration, such as a dose syringe or a medicine cup.   Household spoons used for eating or measuring spoons used for cooking should not be used to dose children’s medication.   Use only devices labeled with milliliters and one that is easy to read.

Verify the concentration on the bottle of any medication that you give your child.  Often the same medication marketed for infants is much more concentrated than the same medication labeled for children.  Regulations have helped standardize concentrations for some medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol™) but variations in concentrations still occur for many other commonly used medications.

Please contact our office if you are confused or unsure about how to administer your child’s medication. The following may be helpful for you to avoid errors and ensure your child’s medicine is given appropriately:

Household measurement Metric equivalent
½ tsp 2.5 milliliters (mL)
¾ tsp 3.5 milliliters (mL)
1 tsp 5 milliliters (mL)
1 and ½ teaspoon 7.5 milliliters (mL)
2 teaspoons 10 milliliters


Commonly used abbreviations:



Medicine to be given:
QD One time per day
BID Two times per day
TID Three times per day
QID Four times per day
QHS At bedtime