Medication Calculations

The nurse's quick guide to drug calculations

Nurses are often intimidated by the math that occurs in everyday practice. Patient safety depends on the practitioner’s ability to calculate medications correctly and in a timely manner. This article will provide a simple and concise method for accurate computation using basic calculations

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Even with the programmable I.V. pumps commonly used in clinical settings, it is advisable for nurses to independently calculate and verify the correct dosage at least once during their shift. This frequency may increase when titrating or changing medications. Additionally, many professionals adhere to the widespread practice of verifying dosages with another registered nurse, and in some institutions, this practice is mandatory.

Understanding the therapeutic dosage required to achieve the desired effect is equally crucial as accurately calculating the drug dosage. For instance, dopamine administered at doses ranging from 3 to 5 mcg/kg/minute induces gentle dilation of the renal arteries, leading to increased urine output without affecting blood pressure. However, at higher doses (up to 20 mcg/kg/minute), dopamine is employed for blood pressure support. Familiarize yourself with the medication’s intended effects and the maximum recommended safe infusion dosage.

Nursing Responsibilities for Medication Administration