Drug Calculations for Busy Paramedics

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calIV and Drug Calculations for Busy Paramedics
By Kent R. Spitler, MSEd, RN, NREMT-P EMS Educator Charlotte, North Carolina Introduction Medication calculations can cause frustration for EMS providers. Math and pharmacology can make it difficult to succeed on course exams, in the clinical setting, and in the field. There is a solution to make medication calculations easier. The answer to this problem is simple by showing students how to perform calculations using a simple process. While there are plenty of good drug and solution textbooks, study guides, and presentations available showing the methods of medication calculations, It seems that it much of it causes mathematical confusion often called “math mental blocks” for many EMS
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15 goes into 15 once and 15 goes into 60 four times resulting as 80/4 leaving us with the answer of 20. Observe the example below: 80 ml (amount) X 15 gtts/ml (drip set) 80 X 15 1 = 60 4= 60 (divided my time in minutes – over 1 hour) 80 X 1 = 4 80 4 = 20 gtts/min

So any time you use a 15 gtts/ml drip set just divide the amount of solution per hour by 4. 80 6 = 20 gtts/min The 20 gtts/ml drip set is calculated the same way except you divide by 3 since there are three 20 minute periods in one hour. 20 goes into 20 once and 20 goes into 60 three times. Observe the example below: 80 ml (amount) X 20 gtts/ml (drip set) 60 (divided my time in minutes – over 1 hour) = The answer is 26.6 or rounded off to 27 gtts/minute. This means all you need to do is divide the amount of solution per hour by 3 to get the gtts/min. Summary • Drip sets used in medicine are based on the 60 minute clock for timing and calculations. All you need to do is divide the amount to be infused each hour by how many time periods the drip set has in one hour which is based on the clock. The drip sets include the minidrip set, 60 gtts/ml, and three regular drip sets which include the 10 gtts/ml set, 15 gtt/ml set, and the 20 gtts/ml set. There is one (1) 60 minute period in one hour, six (6) 10 minute periods in one hour, four (4) 15 minute periods in one hour, and three (3) 20 minute periods in one hour. When reducing fractions to allow easier calculations

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