How to calculate IV drip rates

Written by matt browning
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Nurses, emergency medical technicians, trauma doctors and other health care professionals who may need to infuse patients with intravenous medicines regularly need to calculate IV drip rates. Calculating drip rates, which are usually expressed in drops per minute, requires some mathematical skill and regular practice. But it can be relatively easy thanks to specific formulas, each depending on how the IV drip should deliver the medicine.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Calculate drops per minute for an IV drip that a patient needs over a period of time by multiplying the volume of the IV set in cc's by the drop factor of the IV set (listed on the IV set or on the IV bag itself). Divide the result by the period of time in minutes.

  2. 2

    Figure IV drip rates for an IV drip that the patient needs at a specific dose per minute by multiplying the desired dosage per minute by the drop factor (60). Divide the result by concentration of the drug in millilitres.

  3. 3

    Calculate drops per minute for an infusion that requires a specific dose per minute per kilogram of body weight by multiplying the desired dose per minute by the patient's weight in kilograms. Multiply this result by the drop factor of the IV set. Take this result and divide it by the concentration of the medicine in millilitres.

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