Easy (No, REALLY Easy) Medication Calculations

Easy medication calculations DO exist. If you have tried other calculations and wished you had one where you could just plug in numbers, well look no further!


I was in an IV medication class not long ago (working on my continuing education!) and it was like an angel from heaven above was standing in the front of the room giving me all these wonderful formulas, and I usually like math! I thought I would share these easy medication calculations with you.

Finally we can start nursing and stop hanging over our calculators!
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These easy math calculations involve figuring out a drip factor first. Once you memorize these formulas, then life becomes so much easier.

Medications Calculations

In order to show you how GREAT these medication calculations are, I am going to use an example from the IV Drip Rates page. So you can see we will get the same answers!

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?

Remember, you are calculating your OWN drip factor here!

Using the calculations from above, our drip factor is:

400 (mg) x 1000 ÷ 250 (mL) ÷ 60 ÷ 96.4 (weight in kg)= 0.28

So you look at this number and say, Ok so now what…

Well, now you need to just plug that number (your drip factor) into the below calculation.

Easy Math for Nurses

So if we need 5 mcg/kg/min (per our above example) then we do the following:

5 ÷ 0.28 (from before) = 18 mL/hr

I know I know!! Easy right?

So now pretend the dopamine drip is running at 25ml/hr and the doctor wants to know exactly how much the patient is getting…again EASY

0.28 (your drip factor) x 25 = 7 mcg/kg/min

I hope this helps you a little bit in wherever you are, be it school or already working. Whatever way is easier for you, do it! If you want more practice, you can always sign up for our periodic newsletter Scrub Top Soup below. You will receive website updates and free math practice!

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See this article of medication calculations errors

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