IV Drip Rates
For Weight Based Medications

Weight based IV drip rates throw a snag in many nursing students’ confidence in their ability to do nursing math. It is not that hard though. All you need to do is memorize one little formula.

So put down the paper bag and stop hyperventilating. This is a great way to learn how to calculate IV drip rates for nursing school. I have seen other formulas for calculations that I like, however, I find this formula is great in nursing school because the drip factor is always given to you by your professor.

This is a different formula than that of IV push medications of than that of IV rate calculations that are NOT weight based.

Here we go! Ready?

Weight Based IV Drip Rate Formula

Some Things to Remember

  1. In the USA, we still use pounds for a patient’s weight, so you must FIRST convert pounds to kg. To do this DIVIDE your weight in pounds by the number 2.2 and you will get the patients weight in kg.
  2. The gtt factor pertains to how many drops equal 1 mL. This will be on the packaging of your tubing. In school, the teacher will usually give you this number.
  3. Your solution concentration must be in mcg/mL before plugging it into the equation. So if the concentration is 500mcg/500mL than the number you would put in the formula is 1. Make sense?

Free Example of IV Drip Rates

You have an order to start a dopamine drip at 5mcg/kg/min. Your patient weighs 212 lbs. The gtt factor is 60 and the dopamine solution is 400mg/250mL. How fast do you run the drug on the pump?

Free Nursing Math

Your patient is 76kg. You are mixing a dobutamine bag, per orders, with a 500mL bags D5W and a 250mg vial of dobutamine. You need to start the drip at 2.5mcg/kg/min. Drip Factor = 60. How many mL/hr should you run the drug?

Nursing Math Word Problem

Start Nipride at 3mcg/kg/min. Patient weighs 110 lbs. Bag of Nipride has 50mg/250mL D5W. Gtt Factor = 60. How fast do you run it per hour?

pounds to kg

If you seem to get a wrong answer, double check your setup. Did you convert pounds to kg? Did you miss a zero in the calculator? Did you round correctly? Make sure the answer makes common sense. I don’t know if any drip runs at 500ml/hr besides a fluid bolus, so your answer, by common sense, should never be that high!

If this doesn’t make sense to you, and another way does---PLEASE use the way you know. I am confident there are about 20 different ways to do these calculations. I sometimes use 2 ways just to make sure I get the same answer. Good way to double check!

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