Using candy as a stand-in for simulated medication in educational scenarios is risky and unprofessional. It puts patients at risk if healthcare professionals don’t recognize and understand the importance of their actions. If a simulation scenario is too casual, that attitude can carry over to real-life situations.
Using candy as simulated medicine, or even referring to medication as candy, can have devastating results. More than 60,000 children 5 and under are treated in emergency rooms every year for accidental medication poisoning. That’s nearly 165 children a day! (Source)
Adverse drug events (ADEs) account for nearly 700,000 emergency room visits a year, and affect nearly 5 percent of hospitalized patients. Elderly patients, many of whom can take up to five prescription medications a day, are at high risk. Pediatric patients, whose dosage often depends on weight, are also at increased risk. (Source)
Tips to keep from confusing candy and medication
1. Don’t refer to medication as candy. Everyone likes a taste of something sweet, and bright little pills can look too much like a friendly treat.
2. Store medication in a medicine closet or bathroom. Keeping it in the kitchen can create confusion in little minds.
3. Make sure pharm techs, nurses, and even ambulatory patients take the time to look at what they are taking. Most meds are stamped with a brand name or dosage amount. Candy usually is plain.
4. Educate students about communicating with patients about medication compliance. For example, teaching parents how to talk to their children about medication helps prevent power struggles and accidents. Helping older patients organize their meds reduces risk of under- or over-medicating.
Remember: Candy is for eating, not treating. End the risk of confusion, and switch to something else for your classroom.
NOTE: If someone does take medication thinking it’s candy, don’t wait to see if there is an adverse effect. Call Poison Control and take the person to the nearest ER.
Instead of candy, pick Demo Dose® Simulated Medication. By using simulated oral medication, students learn what pills, tablets, caplets, and capsules truly look like. The colors, texture, and scoring are much more realistic than cinnamon red hots or Skittles®. Labeling is also realistic, and teaches students how to read medication bottles.
Demo Dose is for education only. Not for human or animal use.