# How do you choose which IV tubing to use?

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• Specializes in critical care transport. Has 10 years experience.

10, 15, 20, 60?

I am trying to get a head start on my dosage and calculations for my last semester of school (school doesn't start for another week). I can figure out dosage, times, settings, concentration, etc, with no problems. But with a few of the questions, they ask, "which tubing would you use for....?" I've never thought of that. So, here's the question-

1g Keflin in 50mL D5W to infuse in 20 min. Choose the appropriate tubing for this infusion:

A. 10gtts/mL

B. 15 gtts/mL

C. 20 gtts/mL

D. 60 gtts/mL

I set up my problem like this:

50mL

------ X (type of tubing) = _____gtt/min

20 min

Doing the math, the answers are:

A would come out to 25 gtt/min

B would come out to 37.5 gtt/min

D would come out to 150gtt/min

So which one do I choose? How do you know which tubing to use?

4 Articles; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt. Has 40 years experience.

i am wondering if there is something specific in your textbook or a future lecture that addresses this which is why they would ask which size tubing to use. in the years that i've practiced i would just grab whatever tubing was available and use it. in the clinical area, ivpb (iv piggyback tubing) comes in standard drip of 15 drops/ml. however, your problem doesn't state anything about using ivpb tubing. iv tubing comes in all the drips stated (10, 15, 20 and 60 drops/ml). 15 drops/ml is the standard. 60 drops/ml is pediatric but used throughout the hospital--its drop rate can be titrated much more closely than tubing that deliverss at 10 drops/ml.

without knowing what your textbook or a future lecturer has to say on this issue i would go with the standard 15 drops/ml since that is the most commonly used iv tubing. however, that may be the wrong answer according to your textbook.

your answers are all correct although they should be expressed as drops per minute. the answer for c would be 50 drops/minute.

378 Posts

Specializes in critical care transport. Has 10 years experience.

Thank you daytonite. I was worried I had missed something. I haven't looked in ALL of my nursing books. My calculations book made no mention of it.

I appreciate your time. I never really thought about the tubing, I haven't had to choose the most appropriate tubing in clinicals.

336 Posts

I attend LU out of the FLW site in MO. Our school teaches that the microdrip 60gtt tubing should be used for 60 ml/hr and under. Anything over 60 ml/hr is at the discretion of the student unless the question specifically states to use particular tubing. Hope this helps. Therefore, for your question above, the correct anwer would be 150gtt/min (if you were attending my school). Hope this helps you , Angela.

378 Posts

Specializes in critical care transport. Has 10 years experience.

yes, that is what I was wondering. Is there a hard number (as you described).

We hadn't learned this yet, and there was no mention of it in my book (although, as you know, we have a ton of them to look through. It's probably in there somewhere.)

Thanks for posting your reply. This is very helpful. I didn't think it would be a big deal for which tubing to use, unless you didn't have an IV pump...counting 150 gtt/min would be impossible. Thank God for those IV pumps. :-)

4 Articles; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt. Has 40 years experience.
counting 150 gtt/min would be impossible.
That's what I was thinking and I worked back in the days before IV pumps. I'd have to count 5 drops for every 2 seconds of time by the sweep hand of my watch. It's doable, but it takes time to do this titration. This is why my first choice would be standard tubing with a drop factor of 15 gtts/mL. But, you'd still have to stand there, look at the sweep hand of your watch, count drops and adjust the roller clamp on the IV tubing! In those days we really got good at it.

378 Posts

Specializes in critical care transport. Has 10 years experience.
That's what I was thinking and I worked back in the days before IV pumps. I'd have to count 5 drops for every 2 seconds of time by the sweep hand of my watch. It's doable, but it takes time to do this titration. This is why my first choice would be standard tubing with a drop factor of 15 gtts/mL. But, you'd still have to stand there, look at the sweep hand of your watch, count drops and adjust the roller clamp on the IV tubing! In those days we really got good at it.

That was a part of our test out last year. We have to know how to do everything "without a machine." I think everybody does though, but some of our instructors have interesting stories. Our lab instructor is probably in her 60's, and she said she got real good at just looking at the drip to figure out how fast it was going without watching the clock!

Some things have changed for the better.

4 Articles; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt. Has 40 years experience.
That was a part of our test out last year. We have to know how to do everything "without a machine." I think everybody does though, but some of our instructors have interesting stories. Our lab instructor is probably in her 60's, and she said she got real good at just looking at the drip to figure out how fast it was going without watching the clock!

Some things have changed for the better.

Well, I am 59 and I remember those days! Your instructor is right. We did learn how to do it without looking at our watches. . .one hippopotamus. . .two hippopotamus. . .:rotfl:

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