Question for ICU nurses!!!


I just got hired in an ICU after being a new grad for a year on a med-surg floor. There are obviously a lot of emergent situations in the ICU and I'm pretty horrendous at math - so I was wondering how much of a problem this is going to be. Are you ever handed a vial or syringe of a drug that you aren't very familiar with, so you have to read the label/dosing on the vial (e.g., 5 mg in 1 mL vial, ordered to give 20 mg) and you have to take a few minutes to figure out (and double check) the correct dose that the Dr. verbally wants you to give? Or does that look bad/will you look dumb? I did this example calculation within like ~5 seconds (not including the time to read the label and total concentration of the vial), but I took longer because I wanted to make sure it was correct - wondering if I should have just given it after doing my initial math to save time or is it better to take the time and double check?

Do other ICU nurses feel dumb when they have to take the time to figure out the correct dose in these situations/in general? Just wondering if I'm the only ICU nurse with this problem.

Can you do okay in an ICU if you're terrible at math?


31 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 25 years experience.

Your question has to do with being prepared for a crisis in which you may be responsible for handling medications which are typically kept in a crash cart. Most meds are drawn up already in burst a jet syringes (example 1 mg atropine). You should ask for time to look at that cart with a preceptor, make a list of the medications it contains and get to know these meds backwards and forwards. That knowledge will decease your anxiety. Also be aware of the actions you would expect to see and how long it "should" take.

So to your question - It is your job to know these medications and after a few times of crisis it would be unacceptable not to know the drugs, how safely to give them and the effects of each medication.

Specializes in ICU. Has 20 years experience.

Learn your rapid sequence intubation drugs.

Label them or tape the vial to the syringe.

Focus on your role of pushing drugs.

Ask another RN to check the dose.

If an MD is getting huffy with you for not being being

mind reader just say "working on it." What a jerk.