Calculation for Medication Administration

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This is a guest app review by David S. Pomerantz, paramedic and educator. If you want to guest post or review on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

As a Paramedic working in Florida I have interacted with many Paramedic students who admit that they want to be a Paramedic, but are concerned with the math calculations that are involved in the Paramedicine field. I try to dispel their fear and help them understand what is needed to succeed with med math calculations.

The first step you need to do is brush up on your basic math skills. Go back and review the basics: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. There are plenty of online websites that offer access to many free/printable math worksheets, practice tests, and online basic skill games to help you improve what might be a distant memory.

The second step is to bump it up a notch and review the language of math. Look at fractions, percentages and decimals. You probably didn’t know it but you used to use fractions every day, prior to the use of debt cards! You can relate easily to fractions by considering money. Take for example; a one-dollar bill ($1.00) represents the whole number or 100% of the object. Each of the 4 quarters (.25 cents each) that make up the dollar is a ¼ of the whole number, or of the whole dollar. A percentage is simple: it is a portion of 100 noted with the % sign. Using the example above the percentage would be 100% of the whole object.

The third step is to jump into the bowels of Paramedicine. This is where you need to review rate dependent calculations and weight based calculations. In my opinion, this is where the fun begins. For example: Your medical control might order you to administer with consideration for some or all of the following factors:

  • As a single standard dose of medication
  • As a dose of medication with consideration of rate (time)
  • As a dose of medication with consideration for a patient’s weight.

Solving math problems involving medication administration is one of the more challenging tasks in medical math. But the more you practice the better you’ll get and the easier the challenges will be. 

David S. Pomerantz lives with his wife and daughter in Deerfield Beach, Florida. He is co-author of Jones and Bartlett’s book: Paramedic: Calculations for Medication Administration. He can be reached on twitter at @flaparamedic or gmail at squad51paramedic@gmai.com