# Safer Prescribing Workbook SECTION 5 CALCULATIONS AND INTRAVENOUS PRESCRIPTIONS

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1 Safer Prescribing Workbook SECTION 5 CALCULATIONS AND INTRAVENOUS PRESCRIPTIONS The objectives of this section are: To understand the rationale behind the rates, dilutions and compatibilities of intravenous medicines To be able to carry out simple calculations To be able to calculate infusion rates for commonly prescribed medicines To be able to write prescriptions for intravenous infusions To be aware of national and local policies concerning certain intravenous drugs

2 Rules for calculations Units Abbreviations g - gram mg - milligram l - litre ml - millilitre mmol - millimole Microgram and nanogram must be written out in full, abbreviations such as mcg or µg for microgram or ηg for nanogram must not be used. The terms are singular and plural so mg not mgs and ml not mls. 1 gram = 1000 milligram 1 milligram = 1000 microgram 1 microgram = 1000 nanogram To convert gram into milligram multiply by 1000 e.g. change 0.35 grams to mg = 0.35 x 1000 = 350 mg To convert milligram into gram divide by 1000 e.g. change 45 mg to gram = 45 / 1000 = 0.045g To convert milligram into microgram multiply by 1000 e.g. change 0.025mg to microgram = x 1000 = 25 microgram Concentration of drug in solution The concentration of drugs in solution may be expressed in several ways. 1. Weight dissolved in the fluid, e.g. mg/ml. 2. As percentages (%) which is the same as the number of grams of drug in 100ml of fluid. 3. As ratios e.g. 1 in 1000 which is the same as 1g in 1000ml How to calculate doses from concentration Drug dosages may be worked out using the following formula: Volume needed = What you want x Volume it is in What you've got e.g. the required dose of a drug is 30 mg. The injection contains 40 mg in 10 ml Volume needed = 30 mg x 10 ml = 40 mg 7.5 ml

3 Check that both the dose prescribed and the drug solution being used are in the same units before using this equation (e.g. milligram and millilitre in this case). If the concentration is expressed as percentage, first work out how many milligrams there are per ml. e.g. the drug is at a concentration of 2%. This means that there are 2 grams in 100ml. 2 grams x 1000 = 2000mg That is 2000mg in 100ml, so the concentration in mg per ml is 2000 mg/ 100ml, which is 20mg/ml. You can then work out the volume of the product you need for a mg dose as above. If the concentration is expressed as a ratio, to work out how many ml of a product to give, in order to deliver a certain number of mg, work out how many mg there are per ml. e.g. Adrenaline 1 in 10,000 1 in 10,000 = 1 gram in 10,000ml 1gram x 1000 = 1000mg in 10,000ml Therefore 1mg is in 10ml and 0.1mg is in 1ml or you could say that 100microgram are in 1ml To deliver 500microgram you would need 5ml of this product. Rules for writing doses It is best to always write doses so that there is never a trailing zero. Missing out a vital decimal point, or one that could be misread can result in overdosing. So never write 5.0mg for example, which could result in 50mg being given. If a decimal point must be used, it must be carefully and clearly written. For example, a dose of 2.5mg morphine is written, without a clear decimal point a dose of 25mg could be given which could kill the patient. e.g. If digoxin is written you must write the whole number of micrograms. e.g. 500 microgram not 500 mcg or µg which could be misread as milligram resulting in 1000 x overdose, killing the patient (This HAS happened!) and for a dose of 62.5 microgram never write mg as this can result in a 10x overdose as people get confused with conversion of the dose to the amount of commercially available preparations giving 625 microgram by mistake.

4 Workshop Scenario 1 Mr POD is a 35 year old gentleman who has suffered personal problems recently, including a divorce and redundancy. He has been admitted via the Emergency Department to the Acute Medical unity having taken a paracetamol overdose. 1. What factors would determine whether treatment is required with an antidote?. 2. Write up an antidote regimen on the intravenous prescription chart for this patient asking suitable questions to determine an appropriate dose. 3. You are on the ward the next evening; another paracetamol overdose patient has been admitted and is due to receive the final part of the antidote regime that has been prescribed by your colleague. The nurse is on duty on the ward alone and asks you if you will check the drug with her. The following is on the tray, how would you confirm if it is correct: Can you suggest a safer practice? Dextrose 5% two 500ml bags Parvolex (NAC) 7 ampoules of 10ml Needles Syringes Giving set

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6 Scenario 2 You are working on a medical ward. Mrs BS is a 49 year old patient who has come in for an acute exacerbation of asthma. She has received nebulised salbutamol 5mg every hour and ipratropium 500 micrograms every 4 hours. She has already received 200mg of IV hydrocortisone. 1. She is still extremely short of breath and your SPR wants you to commence IV aminophylline. Ask relevant questions in order to ascertain an appropriate dosing regimen for this patient, and write a prescription on the IV prescription sheet for this patient. 2. The patient has received 8 hours of aminophylline and has adequate levels of 12mg/l (normal therapeutic range 10-20mg/l). She is still very wheezy and the consultant wants the salbutamol to be given IV. Write a safe prescription on the IV sheet for this patient. 3. The patient is noted to be tachycardic the following day with a heart rate of 145 bpm. Consider the possible reasons for the tachycardia in this patient and how they might be corrected. 4. You are working in the Acute Medical Unit where a 64 year old man has been admitted via the Emergency Department. He presented with atrial fibrillation, this is the first onset of AF, he is considered to be stable. He has had all the relevant tests. All possible reversible causes of AF have been corrected or excluded. The consultant wants you to prescribe IV amiodarone. Write a clear, safe prescription for this patient on the IV prescription form.

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