Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Obey the Law, AND Suffer the Consequences

When Abby was a baby (a mere 5-6 years ago), I called her pediatrician and asked them what to do when she had a cold. They didn't even hesitate to tell me to use Triaminic cough medicine, and even gave me a reduced dosage to use based on her weight. Abby has always, always been in the 5th percentile for weight, so she has always been very small. Even though she only weighed about 18 pounds, I was told that it was alright to give her Benadryl for a runny nose, and Triaminic for a cough or congestion. And this is exactly what I did, with no problems.

All that changed when Avery was a baby. They started putting warnings on the medicine that you should ask a doctor before giving the medicine to children under six. Six?? I gave this stuff to my one year old! When I called the doctor to find out how much I could give my 25 pound one year old (Avery), they told me not to give him anything. Really? You expect me to just send my baby off to bed, barking like a seal, coughing up phlegm every two minutes, and crying because he can't breath out of his nose? Ummm... It's quite obvious to me that you don't have a one year old at your house, otherwise you would realize that a "humidifier and plenty of fluids" just will not help the poor kid sleep - much less help me sleep.

Today I went to the store to buy Ethan some cough syrup. The packaging now says, "Do NOT give this product to children under 4 years old." But, my three year old weighs more than my four year old. Heck, he weighs more than my six year old! So, I asked the pharmacist how much a 38 pound kid can have. She immediately asked me his age. When she heard that he was three, she said "For legal reasons, I can't tell you how much to give him. Please ask your doctor instead." Legal reasons, huh? I guess legality is more important than "balancing the needs of patients and society", and placing the "concern for the well-being of the patient at the center of professional practice", like the APA's Code of Ethics for Pharmacists states. Apparently, the fear of being sued goes before the needs of patients and society. Yeah, I'm a nerd that actually looked that up just to prove a point.

So, next I called Ethan's pediatrician's office and asked them. I spoke to a nurse there, and she told me that I shouldn't give the medicine to any kid under age six, but I should always dose by weight instead of by age. I love the contridiction in that. Dose by weight and not age - unless the law says otherwise. It's no longer about what is best for the kid, thanks to those two or three stupid parents who must have just handed the whole bottle of cough medicine to their kids and said, "Drink up!"

But really, this law will probably end up just hurting more kids than it helps. At least 5 years ago I could call and ask my pediatrician, get an honest answer, and then safely give my child the correct dosage of the correct medicine. Now that they're all so afraid of getting sued or fined, I have to just guess. I might get it wrong - after all, I'm not the one who went to ten years of school to learn this stuff. I can see how easy it would be to overdose your kids now that this law is in effect. I hope everyone is careful, but we all know that some parents just aren't.

I'm not going to let my sweet little kids suffer through cold symptoms just because some laws were put in place to prevent doctors from doing their jobs, and I doubt that many other parents will either. We all want to do what's best for our kids, and sometimes medicine is best. I'm not going to get into the whole natural/homeopathic/no medicine argument right now, but I think we all agree that a happy baby is better than a cranky, sick, pitiful baby any day.


Daniel said...

Where are you?

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