As part of the Nursing Standard's 'How to' series, Jane Brindley, a senior lecturer in adult nursing, provides a step-wise, practical approach to undertaking intravenous (IV) infusion calculations. The article also explores the evidence base behind medication errors in relation to calculations.
- Medication errors are the most common type of error affecting patient safety and the most common single, preventable cause of adverse events.
- Medicines calculations can assist in preventing an inaccurate medicines dose from being administered to the patient, which could result in suboptimal therapeutic benefit and/or possible harm to the patient.
- It is crucial for IV infusion calculations to be accurate, because these medicines directly enter the venous system and generally have a prompt action. Therefore, there is limited possibility of removing the medicine if an error is made.
- Individual nurses and healthcare organisations must ensure that medicines calculation skills are developed and maintained in practice.