How to calculate IV flow rates:
Intravenous fluid must be given at a specific rate, neither too fast nor too slow. The specific rate may be measured as ml/hour, L/hour or drops/min. To control or adjust the flow rate only drops per minute are used.
The burette contains a needle or plastic dropper which gives the number of drops per ml (the drop factor). A number of different drop factors are available (determined by the length and diameter of the needle).
Common drop factors are:
10 drops/ml (blood set), 15 drops / ml (regular set), 60 drops / ml (microdrop).
To measure the rate we must know:
(a) the number of drops
(b) time in minutes.
The formula for working out flow rates is:
volume (ml) X drop factor (gtts / ml)
time (min) = gtts / min
1500 ml IV Saline is ordered over 12 hours. Using a drop factor of 15 drops / ml, how many drops per minute need to be delivered?
1500 (ml) X 15 (gttss / ml)
12 x 60 (gives us total minutes) = 31 gtts / min
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