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GP errors in child paracetamol doses

Paracetamol is commonly prescribed in too high or low a dose for children in primary care, new research suggests.

More than half of all paracetamol prescriptions for children failed to comply with BNF recommendations, UK researchers found.

The study examined prescriptions for paracetamol in 2,761 children aged 12 and under from 40 GP practices in the Scottish Practice Team Information database in 2006.

Analysis showed that 11.3% of prescriptions were classified as underdosed compared to BNF recommendations, 2.9% as overdosed and a further 15% had no dosage instructions.

Children aged one to three months were at highest risk of being overdosed. 27% of prescriptions to this age group recommended doses that were or could potentially be too high.

Study leader Dr James McLay, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, said: 'Both overdosing in young children and underdosing in older children together with their associated risks of toxicity or under treatment occur relatively frequently.'

Br J Clin Pharmacol 2011, online 18 May

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