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What are the range of skills that I need for drug calculations?

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This article will tell you about

  • How a group of second year students and recently qualified nurses performed when doing drug calculations
  • Which type of calculation nurses found more difficult
  • What can be done to improve nurses’ skill in drug calculations

You would be likely to reference this article if you were researching:

  • Prescribing
  • Drug calculations
  • Medicines management

In what situations will this article be useful to me?

This research study tested 229 second year student nurses and 44 registered nurses on key calculation skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, percentages and conversions. And it tested them on the main types of drug calculations such as dosage calculations for solid and liquid oral medication and injections, and intravenous fluids. This study showed that both students and nurses were able to perform calculations for solids, oral liquids and injections more easily than calculations for drug percentages, drip and infusion rates. This article highlights the need for regular practice in drug calculation to maintain skills.

Questions for your mentor/tutor

  • What are the range of skills that I need for drug calculations?
  • How can I best practise my drug calculations skills?
  • How can I get more practice?

Student Nursing Times Decoder

  • Numerical testing: This assesses your skills on the use of numbers including adding, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals and  percentages.
  • Drug calculation testing: This assesses your skills on how you calculate correct doses of medications in a range of formats including  solid and liquid oral medication and intravenous therapy.


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