The Metric System and Medication - Pharmacology

Medication is prescribed in measurements of the metric system. Some students become anxious at just the mention of calculations. If you feel anxious and panicky, relax. We’All show you the easy way to perform these calculations.

Medication calculation requires you to know how to multiply and divide. You’All also need to know six metric measurements and five household measurements (ounces, teaspoon, tablespoon, cup and drop).

Let’s begin with the metric system. The metric system uses grams to measure weight and liters to measure volume as shown in Table(Units and their equivalents). Prefixes are used to indicate the number of grams and liters. Table(Prefixes used in medication)shows the commonly used prefixes that you’All see when calculating medication.

Each prefix indicates the value. The prefix is placed before the unit of measure such as 1 kilogram or 1 milliliter. Look at Kilo in Table(Prefixes used in medication). The factor is 1000, which is larger than a gram or liter. Therefore, you multiple the gram or liter by 1000. That is, a kilogram is 1000 grams and a kiloliter is 1000 liters. The important point to remember is that the prefix of the measure implies the size of the measurement.

Units and their equivalents.

Table : Units and their equivalents.

Prefixes used in medication

Table : Prefixes used in medication.


Household measurements are used for liquid medications that are given to patients in the home setting. An example is two teaspoons of cough medication. Nurses encounter household measurements when providing home healthcare services and when determining a patient’s fluid intake and output in the hospital setting. Nurses also use pounds when calculating a dose that is based on a patient’s weight. Patients should use measuring spoons for medication administration at home and avoid using tableware.

Patients are usually more comfortable self-administering medication if the dose is in household measurements. However, medication is recorded using metric measurements. Therefore, a nurse must be able to convert household measurements to metric measurements.

Let’s say that the patient drinks an 8-ounce glass of orange juice. The nurse must convert that to milliliters (mL) or cubic centimeters (cc) in order to record the intake volume in the patient’s fluid input and output chart. (Remember 1 mL = 1 cc.)

Table contains commonly used conversion factors for household measurement and metric measurement.

Commonly used conversion factors for household measurement and metric measurement.

Table : Commonly used conversion factors for household measurement and metric measurement.

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