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Guide to Calculating IV Drip Rates

Nurses must be able to calculate IV drip rates when IVs are regulated manually. While most IV pumps will automatically calculate the drip rate, it is recommended that the nurse always double checks the IV pump for errors. Since IV medications have direct access to the bloodstream, any errors or miscalculations could have dangerous consequences.

These formulas will aide in calculating how much of an IV solution will be administered at a certain flow rate.  Flow rates are measured in mL per hour, however, you may also need to know the flow rate per minute.

Please note, since it is impossible to give a patient half of a drop, you may round up calculations to the next whole number.

This resource accompanies our  Basics of Peripheral IV Therapy continuing education course, which is also part of many of our IV Certification course packages


Guide to Calculating IV Drip Rates

Drop Factor:  # of drops per mL of solution; may be found on tubing package

Microdrop:  60 gtts/mL; used for small or precise infusions

Macrodrip: 10-20 gtts/mL; used for quick or large infusions


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