# Drip rate vs Flow rate?

1. I am a bit confused...I am fixing to start my 2nd yr of RN school, so I've been trying to get a little ahead on my dosage calc (IV calculations) & I thought I had it pretty well figured out, but then today I was talking with one of my classmates & she says that drip rate & flow rate are not the same thing...is this right?
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3. Yes. Drip rate refers to the number of DROPS the IV solution is dripping at. So, you would be counting drops per minute.

Flow rate refers to the amount of IV solution flowing into the vein. You refer to it as so many cc's or ml's per minute or hour.

With drip rates you literally stand and count the number of drops falling into the drip chamber per minute. Or, you place the IV on a drop counter apparatus.

With flow rates you place the IV on an IV pump and punch in the rate you want the solution to run. There is no correlation between whatever drops you see and the rate the pump is regulating the solution flow.
4. I had the exact same question as you did when I came across that in my doseage calculation workbook. In my workbook they consider gtts/min and mls/hr to be called "flow rate". So I got confused too.

Question to Daytonite:

How does one check the drop rate when using an infusion pump? Are you saying that by looking at the drip chamber that it is incorrect? Can you explain that pls?
Last edit by Dratz on Aug 9, '06
5. Here is how I understand it. Drip rate is how many drops per ml. Which essentially is almost a non issue these days since everyone has a pump. But back in "the day" you would need to know how many drops per ml, and then figure your dosage from there. I want my IV to go at 30ml/hr and my drip rate is 16. For 1ml there are 16 drops. So you would sit and watch 8 drops per minute. Now a days you figure more flow rates. I have 1000ml I want in over 8 hours. My flow rate will be 2.083ml/1min or 125ml/1 hour. This you would just calculate into your pump.
6. Hmm..I understand the drip rate as being drops per ml. Gotcha...You lost me on everything else tho lol
7. Quote from Dratz
Hmm..I understand the drip rate as being drops per ml. Gotcha...You lost me on everything else tho lol
The 1000 mL over 8 hour flow rates were calculated as:

1000 mL/8 hrs = 125 mL/hr

8 hrs * 60 minutes in an hr = 480 minutes -> 1000 mL/480 minutes = 2.083 mL per minute
OR
125 mL/hr/60 minutes = 2.083 mL per minute
8. Okay, I totally understand it all now. Sorry Osbourne......didn't mean to Hi jack your thread.

Quote from emtb2rn
The 1000 mL over 8 hour flow rates were calculated as:

1000 mL/8 hrs = 125 mL/hr

8 hrs * 60 minutes in an hr = 480 minutes -> 1000 mL/480 minutes = 2.083 mL per minute
OR
125 mL/hr/60 minutes = 2.083 mL per minute
9. I had some trouble understanding this concept too. You might understand better by getting a measuring spoon and an eye dropper. Seriously! It helps to have a visual.

Drip a few drops into the measuring spoon to help your mind get hold of the difference between the drops and the milliliter. It's like the difference between the teaspoon and the cup.

The FLOW RATE or the DRIP RATE is HOW FAST the drops and the milliliters are going.

Get it?

The drops per ml is calculated for each IV tubing set. It's labelled on the packaging. As you can see from the pictures, each tubing set has a certain circumference. So they'll cause drips of different sizes. Not to drive you crazy, but just to make you aware. Our unit uses the 10gtt/ml size. You'd probably see the 60 gtt/ml (also called a "microdrip") on the Pedi units.

I hope that helps.

http://connection.lww.com/Products/taylor5e/Ch46.asp

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Cool website here for students showing various ways to give IV meds:

http://myphlip.pearsoncmg.com/altpro...=6645&vid=1106
10. OMG... I'm already freaking just reading this and I haven't even started my first pre-req yet!!!
11. Quote from luvmy3kids
OMG... I'm already freaking just reading this and I haven't even started my first pre-req yet!!!
Seriously....don't freak out. It takes time to learn all this stuff. It is NOT as bad as it looks really lol.
12. Quote from dratz
question to daytonite:

how does one check the drop rate when using an infusion pump? are you saying that by looking at the drip chamber that it is incorrect? can you explain that pls?
answer: you can't. the pump is doing all the work of measuring and calculating the infusion rate and literally pushing the iv fluid into the patient at a low pressure. looking at the drip chamber is usually not going to give you any clue as to how fast the iv is infusing because the pump has control over the infusion. the reason the iv tubing has a drip chamber on it at all is for the event that the iv tubing might have to be taken out of the pump and the iv has to be controlled by manual means with the roller clamp. however, when an iv is on a pump, the drip chamber is actually unnecessary.

question? let's see who's up on their physics.: what is the function of the drip chamber? this was an actual question we had to answer on a test when i was in nursing school back in the 70's.
13. Ahhhhhhhh.......I totally get it now...thanks kindly for your explanation.
14. Quote from daytonite

answer: you can't. the pump is doing all the work of measuring and calculating the infusion rate and literally pushing the iv fluid into the patient at a low pressure. looking at the drip chamber is usually not going to give you any clue as to how fast the iv is infusing because the pump has control over the infusion. the reason the iv tubing has a drip chamber on it at all is for the event that the iv tubing might have to be taken out of the pump and the iv has to be controlled by manual means with the roller clamp. however, when an iv is on a pump, the drip chamber is actually unnecessary.

question? let's see who's up on their physics.: what is the function of the drip chamber? this was an actual question we had to answer on a test when i was in nursing school back in the 70's.
is it so that you can tell if your iv is running (patent) or not?