Drug dosage calculation abilities of graduate nurses

Year: 1996

Author: Santamaria, Nick, Norris, Heather, Clayton, Lexie, Scott, Deborah

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This study describes the analysis of the mathematical ability of 220 registered nurses (RNs) from six Victorian universities applying for a graduate year program at St. Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne. Each applicant completed a drug calculation competency test (DCCT) which required them to calculate ten drug dosages commonly performed by RNs in clinical practice. The results revealed that 58% (n=127) of the 220 applicants were not able to accurately calculate all eleven drug dosages. The results also demonstrated significant differences between applicants from respective universities. The findings suggest that there are fundamental problems with the mathematical skills of newly graduated nurses. The results also support the assertion that the educational preparation of these nurses at the undergraduate level is deficient in some universities and does not adequately prepare nurses to perform basic drug calculations which are frequently required in the acute care setting. The findings of this study also suggest that many newly graduated nurses may pose an unacceptably high risk to patients under their care due to their inability to safely calculate a drug dosage.