Intended for healthcare professionals


Calculating drug doses

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 06 May 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1154
  1. Lee Baldwin
  1. Senior registrar in anaesthetics Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DU

    Doctors need to be drilled to calculate doses accurately in emergencies

    About 70-80% of undergraduates entering medical training in Britain have passed mathematics at A level, and virtually all will have passed the subject at O level. Yet, as Rolfe and Harper show, among a representative sample of 150 doctors asked to perform simple calculations converting drug doses from a percentage or dilution to mass per volume the success rate was as low as 16% (p 1173).1 The results showed that senior doctors (consultants and senior registrars) were better at calculating the correct answer, and anaesthetists were notably better. While these data seem to suggest a hierarchy in numerical skill among doctors, in terms of both age and specialty, clearly there are …

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