It is generally assumed that nurses undertaking drug administration have been adequately trained. Competence may be lacking both in the ability to perform requisite numerical calculations (medication calculation, intravenous regulation, and intake and output calculations) and in the ability to conceptualize the mathematical problem. While many nurses are aware of inadequacy in this area, they are unwilling to admit to it. The situation may be exacerbated in specialist areas (e.g., paediatrics) where more complex mathematics is required and where the consequences of miscalculating the dose are far more severe than in adults.
The administration of medication to patients is a significant part of a nurse’s role. Nurses frequently experience many interruptions during medication administration, which may lead to increasing errors. The causes of poor medication management are: Distractions and interruptions, Heavy workload, insufficient educational support and lastly Poor competence in calculations. Working as a Clinical Facilitator with newly qualified as well as experienced staff nurses, I feel that nurses need a lot more support with drug calculations. I consulted a friend of mine who is a computer programmer; we developed an application for mobile phones called “Dosage Calc”.
This application is designed as a ‘second checker’. The idea is that when the nurse is ‘single’ administering medication, she/he can use the application as a means to second check. The idea is that they can use the application to re assure themselves that they have got the correct answer. Among other things, the application covers tablet dosage, volume of liquids and dosage for body weight but also covers IV drop rates for infusions. The beauty of using this application is that it be used when mobile is in ‘flight mode’.