The Use Of Mathematics In The Medical Field

1099 words - 4 pages

The medical field is a very interesting career field. There are hundreds of different occupations within this field, including anything from saving a fragile newborn baby’s life to prescribing antibiotics to a relatively healthy adult. No two occupations are exactly alike, but each one is equally important. Although there are several job variations in medicine, they all have at least one thing in common. Every occupation within the medical field relies heavily on mathematics. Elementary mathematics, geometry and algebra are all obviously crucial to advancing in new technology, saving lives and curing diseases. However, most people do not realize the importance math has on simpler tasks performed every day by doctors, nurses, x-ray technicians, pharmacists, and the hundreds of other jobs in this fascinating career field. With the use of basic as well as advanced mathematics, we have achieved many life-saving medical advances and will continue to save lives as well as perform less complicated medical tasks.
Perhaps one of the most used mathematic skill in the medical field is converting units. According to a study based on IMS’s Vector One Database, in the year 2011 alone there were 3,764,698,318 prescriptions filled in the United States (SDI Health). In order to prescribe and fill these prescriptions, pharmacists and doctors had to precisely calculate medication measurements. Medication is prescribed using the metric system, often in milligrams per kilogram (Glydon). To figure how much medicine to prescribe to a patient, a doctor must first convert their patient’s weight in pounds to kilograms. After this, they must carefully calculate the amount of required milligrams per kilogram. Doctors must be able to determine the correct amount quickly and accurately; if there is a large miscalculation, the doctor could possibly face serious legal trouble or even lose his/her job depending on the circumstances.
Similarly to doctors and pharmacists, nurses also rely on the metric system and are required to convert measurements quickly. Many nurses deal with this daily through calculating IV drip rates. Most IV bags contain one thousand cubic centimeters of fluid. A doctor may order his/her nurse to administer one thousand cubic centimeters every 8 hours. This may not seem too difficult, but in order to do this a nurse has to precisely calculate the drip rate of the machine so that the patient gets the required amount of medication in the time frame the doctor suggests. In contrast, a smaller bag of IV fluid may require instruction to give a patient five hundred milligrams every thirty minutes (Boyd). Before calculating the drip rate of the small bag, a nurse would have to convert the original cubic centimeters to milligrams.
Just as important as conversions, ratios and proportions also play a huge role in the medical field. Nurses use ratios and proportions when giving medication based on their patient’s weight and height. A...

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