Making Meds Safer for Kids
When adults enter into the emergency room, they are often given a standard dose of medication. However, when a child comes into the emergency room, doctors and nurses must quickly figure out his/her weight in order to determine the proper dose to administer. Oftentimes, in an emergency situation, putting a child on a scale to get his or her weight isn't an option. Rather than guess the proper dosing for the child, two emergency room doctors have come up with a dosing system based on the length of the child, which is a much easier measurement than weight to do in an emergency situation.
COLOR CODING: The Color Coding Hospital system was designed to streamline treatment during a pediatric emergency. The original part of the system, developed by Dr. Jim Broselow in Hickory, N.C., was a tape measure that translated a child's length into weight and grouped those measurements into a color category. Dr. Broselow teamed up with Dr. Robert Luten in Jacksonville, Fla., to create the Broselow-Luten system, also known as the Color Coding Hospital System. The new system, along with the tape measure, includes informational books and a computer system designed to give emergency health information for children according to the length and associated color. For example, if a baby measures into the "pink zone" on the tape, he or she weighs somewhere between 6 and 7 kg. Once that child is identified as "pink," doctors can then refer to specific treatment guidelines for a child that size. The treatment information addresses not only physician-based aspects such as calculating and communicating the correct dose in milligrams but also nursing concerns such as translating a given order into the appropriate number of milliliters of a given medication to be delivered to the patient. Another part of the system is a color-coded set of drawers that contains supplies correctly sized for each color category.
COLORS AT HOME: The Color Coding system is now reaching beyond the emergency room. Parents of rapidly growing babies aren't always aware of their child's weight when over-the-counter medicine is needed. The home Color Coding Kids system comes with a small measuring tape that's broken up into the same color categories as the hospital tape and a medicine syringe with the color coded measurements printed on it. Using the home system, parents can measure their child to see what zone he/she falls into and then fill the syringe with Tylenol or Motrin up to the matching color to get the correct dose. This also eliminates the need for parents to keep multiple syringes and cups for different medicines.