Nurses use math to calculate dosages of medicine and to convert between different systems, such as weight, temperature and length. Math is also useful to calculate IV drip rates and drug titration.
The use of fractions, decimals, ratios and algebraic equations is common in the nursing field. When drawing liquid medicine, calculating the exact dosage is essential before administering it to the patient. Nurses also calculate dosage amounts based on a patient's weight. Measurements in the nursing field are based on the metric system. Conversion of these measurements requires sharp mathematical skills. Types of conversions include pounds into kilograms, Fahrenheit to Celsius, and inches to centimeters.
The majority of IV bags include instructions to give the patient a particular amount of IV fluid over a certain number of hours. Algebraic equations are used to calculate the amount of IV fluid the patient needs per hour to meet these requirements. IV administration without electric pumps requires nurses to calculate how many drops per hour the patient receives.
Drug titration is vital especially in the intensive care unit. Patients may need varying amounts of intravenous drugs based upon their urinary output per hour. Insulin is often titrated depending on the changing blood glucose reading. Other ways nurses commonly use math are when calculating body mass index, ovulation dates, a patent's glycemic index and when calculating the number of calories a patient has consumed in a day.