Medical Math – Introduction

Just like every other brand spanking new paramedic student just the word pharmacology fills me with a sense of dread.  My expectations of myself, as well as, the path to the type of medic I want to be makes learning it a little more challenging. I’m not interested in merely memorizing the drugs on the National Registry sheets and plugging them into the appropriate algorithm or protocol. Knowing what the drugs do isn’t enough for me, I want to understand the pharmacokinetics and the pharmacodynamics of them as well. I want to know what they do and how they do it and how they get where they need to work… I suppose my point is I want to truly understand the medications not just memorize them.

What makes me different from every other brand spanking new paramedic student is that I am going to try to learn this stuff by teaching it. I am a firm believer in “see one, do one, teach one” As we go thru Pharm I see it in class, do the assignments myself and then reinforce that by posting about it here and “teaching you”.

Hopefully I will be able to break things down in simple enough terms that these posts will help other students out there understand the complexities of pharmacology, and help some ambitious basics out there prepare for the challenges they will face should they decide to give a run at P-school.

I’m going to give a shot to explaining one of the things most students struggle with – Medical Math, paramedic math, dosage calculations whatever you want to call it.

I know just hearing the words sends a cold chill down your spine… It can be a little confusing at first, but with a little practice it starts to make sense. We really are only talking about like 5th or 6th grade math – multiplication and division, simple fractions… Forget that you are calculating dosages and you can work the math pretty easily.

This guide will cover the “formal” way to work these calculations – there are many trips, tips and short cuts to make figuring these easy…  but for now let’s learn the proper and most accurate way to calculate these – we need to know how to do them correctly before we start taking short cuts. The very last page of this guide will have some short cuts that may help but I want you to see the right way first and get comfortable with it before you try the shortcuts.

I’ve broken the subject down into several smaller categories in order from the basic up to short cuts – if you are new to this or struggling with something I suggest starting at the top and working thru as I’ll define the variables I use and how to get them early.

Click the any link below to get started:

  1. The basics
  2. Conversions
  3. Dosage calculations and weight based dosage calculations
  4. Fluid Administration drip rates
  5. Drug drip calculations – including dopamine drips
  6. short cuts

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