Calculator at work? - page 3

Can nurses carry a calculator on the job to calculate dosages? I'm terrible at math when it comes to solving problems in my head. It's like my brain gets scrambled. Due to this I'm getting... Read More

  1. by   DoGoodThenGo
    Quote from GrnTea
    You can make the same errors with a calculator as with pen and paper if you don't know how to set up your problem, which is why people still pick the wrong distractors in med math tests even though they can use calculators. Other than that, having an easily-accessible calculator in your pocket (literal or figurative) can be a boon to the calculating-impaired. When we used to have to calculate drip rates for mcg/kg/min in the ICU in the 70s we all had little light-powered ones; I still have mine.

    Try doing these examples both ways, that is with pen and paper and with calculator. If you get the correct answers either way .... The nurse's quick guide to I.V. drug calculations : Nursing made Incredibly Easy
  2. by   DoGoodThenGo
    Think what throws many is hearing the words "nursing math", when in actuality it really is just math. Yes, there are drug names given and one often needs to know that bit, but the rest is simple straight up math. These are no different in terms of setting up and solving than those "Jane leaves New York At 3PM....." solving for "X" questions we all had to endure as part of high school algebra.

    If a person cannot grasp what is being asked of them to solve any algebraic word question, then all the calculators in the world probably aren't going to do much good.
  3. by   applewhitern
    I have worked in many different hospitals in my 25 years of nursing. Some of the smaller hospitals do not have a full-time, 24/7 pharmacist, and do not have fancy IV pumps that calculate drip rates for you. The hospital I work in now does not. We still figure many mcg/kg/min, etc., type drips by hand. You can carry a calculator, but you do need to learn math.
  4. by   Working2beRN2014
    I am not sure about LPN or LVN schools but I know in our RN school, we are taught how to write out by hand our dosage calculations, of course on the standardized tests we take through HESI and ATI and even the school's exams, we are given a calculator in the test software to use. I agree that it is best to be careful. Math is important, but not all of us are blessed with the ability to do it in our heads. When it doubt have someone double check your math. As my instructor told us, "you need to know how to do this math because you never know when you may be in a situation like a hurricane, a pen and paper could be your best friend."

    I also just wanted to say I actually have a learning disability in Math and yet dosage calculations are not too bad at all. I find that once I understand how to set up the equations on paper, and know where to plug in the numbers, I am golden.
    Last edit by Working2beRN2014 on Jun 12, '13 : Reason: typo
  5. by   ♪♫ in my ♥
    I'm one of the most math-proficient people that I know and can solve any problem without the use of a calculator.

    And yet...

    I nearly always use a calculator because it's so much quicker.

    About the only thing that I do in my head are simple drip rates (e.g. 100 mL over 30 min = 200 mL/hr)

    And calculators are ubiquitous these days... every cell phone, any Google-connected device, and most EMR packages have some sort of calculator available.

    Never forget, however, the adage "garbage in, garbage out" and don't mistake the precision of the calculator for accuracy of the solution.
  6. by   NurseDirtyBird
    You could always get one of those nifty old school watches with calculators...I have one. I use it sometimes.
  7. by   rnfostermom
    I work on Peds/PICU and I always carry a calculator in my pocket. I can't do math well in my head and don't feel any obligation to "know" calculations other than how to get to the right answer. Mostly I use mine to verify "solving for X" type calculations. As the nurse, you are responsible for making sure dose is correct for patient before you give a med. I work in a teaching hospital and I have come across incorrect orders written by residents and supposedly "checked" by pharmacist before being dispensed up to floor to give to patient. You are the last line of defense to keep patient safe, so I say by all means have this tool handy during your work day.
  8. by   needshaldol
    Just carry a calculator if it makes your job better. It is doubtful that you will have to use it these days. Where and what do you do where you need a calculator? There ought to be on on the electronic computer and one on your cell phone too. I have been a nurse very long and I remember the days when we had to calculate. So grateful for pharmacy and IV machines that do 99%.
  9. by   NutmeggeRN
    Why not? But like a computer, garbage in=garbage out...make sure the initial entry is correct and you should have the correct dose.
  10. by   BuckyBadgerRN
    Quote from 1Luv_xo
    I dont know really.. lol. I read online some nurses saying you shouldnt have to use a calculator, you should just know your calculations. I also read that some of the more experienced nurses look down upon those who have to use a calculator.. but I'd rather be safe than sorry!
    How nice that they think they are God's gift to nursing, but I want to be the safe nurse who double check anything I'm unsure of
  11. by   LoriRNCM
    I am TERRIBLE at math, thank God for Math 126 because I learned ratio/proprotions for dosage calculations, so they are easy to do. It's my biggest fear about being a nurse. I'm still in school, actually start in August for RN, but I will NEVER be w/o a little cheapo calculator on the floor.
  12. by   Vishwamitr
    I am intrigued by your question. Why wouldn't it be allowed? Do they expect to reinvent the wheel? Not everyone is a math-genius. Hospitals would much rather that you use a calculator than make an error. Like someone has replied to you, have someone double-check your work.
  13. by   umcRN
    I've probably got three calculators in my bag, we have them at all our pyxises (pyxi? haha) and outside most rooms, and for anything i'm not sure about I double check with someone else. This is peds and a decimal point could kill, no pride here.