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Snap 'N Dose: An easy-to-use dosage calculator and reminder for children’s medication

Keywords: Dosage calculator, dosage reminder, fever tracker, mobile health technology, children's medication.

Overview of Research

Fever is the most common and concerning reason for which parents bring their children to medical attention, and is often caused by common infections (e.g., a cold). Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra) and Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), are the most commonly-used medications for fever and have severe consequences when overdose occurs, including liver and/or kidney failure, or even death. Unfortunately, these errors occur frequently with greater than 50% of parents making errors when administering OTC medications to their children at home. These errors are often caused by confusion resulting from the fact that OTC medications come in a variety of dosage forms (e.g. tablet and liquid), a wide array of brand and generic names, and single or multi-ingredient formulations. Furthermore, caregivers are exposed to a wide range of dosing instruments and complex and inconsistent package labeling, and are required to convert a weight-based dose to a volume (e.g. milligrams to millilitres), which can be challenging for those with both high and low health literacy.  Despite the gravity of this problem, there have been limited studies on how to decrease parental medication administration errors and maximize safety and efficacy. Thus, the goal of Snap ‘n Dose, is to help caregivers administer the appropriate dose of OTC liquid medications to children in a safe and timely manner.

This app was developed with a pediatrician’s insight into the problem of inappropriate dosage (as experienced first-hand) and an intimate understanding of the diverse needs of both clinicians and caregivers. We will continue to ensure that the app utilizes the latest evidence as it relates to patient safety, medication administration and health literacy.

The app allows users to take a picture with their phone of the drug identification number (DIN) on every medicine box or bottle, enter their child's age and weight, and get an easy-to-understand dosage for that particular medication. It can also provide medication reminders and be used to track symptoms such as fever and pain (Fig 1).

Image of Snap'n'Dose in use; smartphone taking picture of medication

Figure 1. Screen shot of Snap ‘n Dose running on a smart phone (click to enlarge).
(Photo Credit: Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Download Snap ‘n Dose app

Coming soon! Please contact Pooja Viswanathan for more information.

Media coverage

University of Toronto:


Related Publications

  1. Ogilvie JD, Rieder MJ, Lim R. Acetaminophen overdose in children. CMAJ. 2012 Sep
    18;184(13):1492-6. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.111338. Epub 2012 Jun 4.
  2. Yin HS, Mendelsohn AL, Wolf MS, Parker RM, Fierman A, van Schaick L, Bazan IS, Kline
    MD, Dreyer BP. Parents' medication administration errors: role of dosing instruments and health literacy. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010 Feb;164(2):181-6. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.269.
  3. Yin HS, Wolf MS, Dreyer BP, Sanders LM, Parker RM. Evaluation of consistency in dosing
    directions and measuring devices for pediatric nonprescription liquid medications. JAMA. 2010 Dec 15;304(23):2595-602. doi: 10.1001/jama.2010.1797. Epub 2010 Nov 30.
  4. Zhou L, Maviglia SM, Mahoney LM, Chang F, Orav EJ, Plasek J, Boulware LJ, Bates DW,
    Rocha RA. Supratherapeutic dosing of acetaminophen among hospitalized patients. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Dec 10;172(22):1721-8.

Research Team

Niraj Mistry, Academic General Pediatric Fellow, BSc, MD, FRCPC (University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children)
Pooja Viswanathan, Post-Doctoral Fellow, BMath, PhD (University of Toronto and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute)
David Xue, MASc Candidate, BASc (University of Toronto)