Drug Calculations for Busy Paramedics
By Kent R. Spitler, MSEd, RN, NREMTP 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 …show more content…
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commonly in ml/hr. You already have the amount and the time to be infused. All you do now is choose the appropriate drip set, using a simple formula you can come up with a quick answer: Amount of Solution (in ml) X drip set (gtts/ml) = x drops/min (gtts/min)
Looking at an example, your medical control states you need to establish an IV on a cardiac patient complaining of chest pressure at a rate of 80 ml/hr using a 500 ml bag of Normal Saline solution. The drip set you choose is a 60 gtts/ml minidrip set. The formula is as follows:
Divide 60 into 4800
80 ml (amount) X 60 gtts/ml (drip set) 60 (divided my time in minutes – over 1 hour)
=
4800 60
=
80 gtts/min
When calculating IV drip rates remember that you can reduce to the lowest common denominator by dividing the same number into both the numerator and the denominator to make your calculations much easier. All samples shown from now on demonstrate this throughout. Simply remember that the numbers are consistent with the 60 minute clock and you will catch on rather quickly. The sample problems will show you by dividing the same number into the drip set and the time. As you see the answer is

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