Resources: Nursing Conversions Cheat Sheet

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Conversion formulas, relevant terms, and other useful information for RNs and nursing students.


 



Nursing Conversions with Formulas, Dosages and IVs

Volume Chart
60 minims 1 dram (4cc Apothecary)
5cc Metric
1tsp
4 drams 0.5 ounces 1tbs  
8 drams 1 ounce    
16 ounces 1pt.    
32 ounces 1qt.    

(Student Nurse Information Center, 2002)

  • mcL → mL → L → kL  (÷ by 1,000)
  • mcL ← mL ← L ← kL  (* by 1,000)
  • Medications are often administered in units of milligrams (mg) and milliliters (mL). Liters, milliliters and microliters are used to express drug volume for dosing.

(Dosage Help, 2007)

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Temperature Conversion Formulas

  • C = F-32/1.8
  • F = 1.8*C-32
  • 1° Fahrenheit is equivalent to 5/9° Celcius
  • In medical settings, temperature is usually referred to in degrees (°) Celcius.

Nursing Conversion Cheat Code: In medical settings, temperature is usually referred to in degrees (°) Celcius.

(iStudentNurse, 2013)

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Mass

  • mcg → mg → g → kg    ( ÷ by 1,000 )
  • mcg ← mg ← g ← kg    ( x by 1,000 )
  • lb → kg    ( ÷ by 2.2 )
  • lb ← kg    ( x by 2.2 )
  • Mass for Mass:
    • How many tablets do you require, once given the amount of mass per tablet?
    • Ordered/Have = Y (tablets required)
  • Mass/Liquid
    • How much liquid do you require, once given the amount of mass per liquid?
    • Ordered/Have * Volume Per Have = Y (Liquid Required)
  • Grams, milligrams and micrograms are used to drug mass for dosing.

(Dosage Help, 2007)

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Drug Calculations for Time, Weight and Height


Time

  • Min → Hr  (÷ by 60)
  • Hr ← Min  (* by 60)
12:00am
Midnight
0000 or 2400
"zero hundred" or "twenty four hundred hours"
Either use of military 12:00am is acceptable to most emergency service personnel. It is encouraged to research exactly which form is favored at your particular place of employ before dictating records.
12:00pm
Noon
1200
"twelve hundred hours"
1:00am 0100
"zero one hundred hours"
1:00pm 1300
"thirteen hundred hours"
2:00am 0200
"zero two hundred hours"
2:00pm 1400
"fourteen hundred hours"
3:00am 0300
"zero three hundred hours"
3:00pm 1500
"fifteen hundred hours"
4:00am 0400
"zero four hundred hours"
4:00pm 1600
"fourteen hundred hours"
5:00am 0500
"zero five hundred hours"
5:00pm 1700
"seventeen hundred hours"
6:00am 0600
"zero six hundred hours"
6:00pm 1800
"eighteen hundred hours"
7:00am 0700
"zero seven hundred hours"
7:00pm 1900
"nineteen hundred hours"
8:00am 0800
"zero eight hundred hours"
8:00pm 2000
"twenty hundred hours"
9:00am 0900
"zero nine hundred hours"
9:00pm 2100
"twenty one hundred hours"
10:00am 1000
"ten hundred hours"
10:00pm 2200
"twenty two hundred hour"
11:00am 1100
"eleven hundred hours"
11:00pm 2300
"twenty three hundred hours"
  • Nursing Conversion Cheat Code: In medical settings, military time is used rather than civilian (standard/conventional) time units in an effort to prevent confusion in documentation and in the Medical Administration Record (MAR).

(Dosage Help, 2007) (Webb, B., Dec. 4, 2010)

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Weight

  • Medication administration that relies upon a patient's weight is calculated in kilograms (kg) rather than pounds (lb). 
1 kg 2.2 lbs
.45 kg 1 lb (approximately)
  • Conversion of patient' weight:
    • [2.2 * (weight in pounds)] = patient' weight in kilograms
    • [2.2 ÷ (weight in kilograms)] = patient' weight in pounds
  • Dosage by Weight:
    • Weight in Kg * Dosage Per Kg = Y (Required Dosage)

(iStudentNurse, 2013)

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Height

  • A patient's height will be measured and documented in medical records as centimeters (cm).
  • 1 inch = 2.54cm
  • 1cm = 0.393701

(iStudentNurse, 2013)

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Common Nursing Errors and Terms

 

Common Clerical Errors

  • Nursing dosage calculations resulting in improper (or too frequent) decimal use is accepted as the leading cause of preventable human error in medication administration. In nursing particularly, any trailing zeroes must be avoided to diminish the threat of confounding the value for having an extra zero.
    • Example: Writing 5.0 mL instead of 5 mL

Nursing Conversion Cheat Code: Rounding errors are a common source of missed questions on nursing school exams.

  • Medication administration calculations typically (but not always) round to the nearest 10’s place.
  • Rounding exceptions may occur in standard clinical practices. Common exceptions to the “10ths place rounding standard” include IV drop rates, some pediatric medication doses, and most neonatal medications doses.
    • IV drip rates: Rounded to the nearest whole drop per minute
    • Pediatric/Neonatal: Rounded to the 100ths place, due to the decreased size in dose

(iStudentNurse, 2013)

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Relevant Terms and Abbreviations

  • gtts: drops
  • Drop Factor: Number of drops per volume of IV fluid. Can vary depending on the type of tubing used.
    • Typically measured in gtts/mL.
  • Flow Rate: Measure f the flow of liquid from an IV.
    • Typically measured in gtts/minute (drops released per minute) or in mL/hour (mL flow per hour)
    • gtts/minute is a manually regulating IV system
    • mL/hour is operated with an electronic IV regulator

(iStudentNurse, 2013) (Dosage Help, 2007)


A
AAO: Alert, awake and oriented
A&O: Alert and oriented
ABD: Abdomen
AC: Before eating
ADR: Adverse drug reaction/Acute dystonic reaction
AOB: Alcohol on breath

B
bid: Twice a day
BP: Blood pressure
BPM: Beats per minute
BS: Bowel or breath sounds
BW: Body weight
BX: Biopsy

C
c: With
CA: Cancer
Ca: Calcium
CBC: Complete blood count
CC: Chief complaint
CNS: Central nervous system
C/O: Complaining of
CP: Chest pain or Cerebral Palsy
CPR: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

D
D: Dextrose
D5W = 5% Dextrose in Water
DAW: Dispense as written
DC: Discontinue or discharge
D&C: Dilation and curettage
DNR: Do not resuscitate
DOA: Dead on arrival
DX: Diagnosis

E
EBL: Estimated blood loss
EMV: eyes, motor, verbal response (Glasgow coma scale)
ENT: Ears, nose, throat
ETOH: Ethanol
EUA: Examination under anesthesia

F
FFP: Fresh frozen plasma
FTT: Failure to thrive
FU: Follow-up
Fx: Fracture

G
GC: Gonorrhea
GI: Gastrointestinal
GSW: Gun shot wound
GTT: Glucose tolerance test
GXT: Graded exercise tolerance (stress test)

H
HA: Headache
HAV: Hepatitis A Virus
HBP: High blood pressure
HEENT: Head, eyes, ears, nose, throat
Hgb: Hemoglobin
HIV: Human immunodeficiency virus
HO: History of
HPI: History of present illness
HR: Heart rate
HS: At betime
HTN: Hypertension
Hx: History

I
I&D: Incision and drainage
I&O: Intake and output
ICU: Intensive care unit
ID: Infectious disease or identification
Irr: Irregular
Isol: Isolation
IV: Intravenous

K
KUB: Kidneys, ureters, bladders
KVO: Keep vein open

L
L: Left
LMP: Last menstrual period
LOC: Loss of consciousness or level of consciousness
LPN: Licensed Practical Nurse

M
Mat: Maternity
MBT: Maternal blood type
MCV: Mean cell volume
Meas: Measure
mmol: Millimole
MMR: Measles, mumps, rubella
MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging
MS: Multiple sclerosis, mitral stenosis or morphine sulfate
MVA: Motor vehicle accident
MVI: Multivitamin injection

N
NAD: No active disease
NED: No evidence of recurrent disease
ng: Nanogram
NKA: No known allergies
NKDA: No known drug allergies
NPO: Nothing by mouth
NRM: No regular medications
NS: Normal Saline (0.9% NaCl)
NSR: Normal sinus rhythm

O
OD: Overdose
OR: Operating room
OU: Both eyes

P
PAR: Post anesthesia room
PC: After eating
Ped: Pediatrics
PFT: Pulmonary function tests
pg: Picogram
PMH: Previous medical history
PO: By mouth
POD: Post-op day
Postop: Postoperative
PR: By rectum
PRBC: Packed red blood cells
PRN: As needed
PT: Physical therapy
Pt: Patient

Q
q: Every (Use in dosage: q6h = every 6 hours)

R
R: Right
RA: Rheumatoid arthritis or right atrium
RBC: Red blood cell
RDA: Recommended daily allowance
RNA: Ribonucleic acid
R/O: Rule out
ROM: Range of motion
RRR: Regular rate and rhythm
RT: Respiratory or radiation therapy
RTC: Return to clinic
Rx: Treatment

S
s: Without
S: Saline
sig: Write on label
SMO: Slips made out
SOAP: Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan
SOB: Shortness of breath
Sx: Symptoms

T
tid: Three times a day
TKO: To keep open
TLC: Total lung capacity
TNTC: Too numerous to count
Tx: Treatment, transplant

U
UA: Urinalysis
UBD: Universal blood donor
ud: As directed
US: Ultrasound
UTI: Urinary tract infection

V
VC: Vital capacity
VCT: Venous clotting time
VDRL: Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (test for syphilis)
VO: Verbal or voice order
VSS: Vital signs stable

W
W: Water
WB: Whole blood
WBC: White blood cell or count
WBR: Whole body radiation
WD: Well developed
WIA: Wounded in action
WN: Well nourished
WNL: Within normal limits
WOP: Without pain

Y
yo: Years old
YOB: Year of birth

Z
ZSB: Zero stools since birth 

(Dosage Help, 2007) (McAuley, D., Oct. 14, 2013) (Nurse Labs, Feb. 2, 2012)

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Intravenous Information for Nurses

 

IV

  • IV pumps are formatted in milliliters per hour (mL/h) and typically rounded to the nearest 10ths place
  • Most common equipment for infusing IV medications in clinical practices: Volumetric pump (or other electronic infusion device)
  • The IV flow rate is typed into the volumetric pump (40 mL/h) (volume over time)
  • IV gravity drips use manual pumps, relying on gravity for a steady drop rate
    • "Drops per minute" refers to the number of drops that enter the drip chamber per minute
    • Gravity drips are rounded to the nearest whole number
    • Gravity drips are uncommon in US medical settings
    • Gravity drips require a drop factor (unless otherwise stated)
      • Standard drop factor for pediatrics: Microdrip, 60 gtts/minute
      • Standard drop factor for adults: Macrodrip
      • Three sizes for a macrodrip: 20 gtts/mL, 15 gtts/mL and 10 gtts/mL
Drops per Minute (Total volume * drip factor) ÷ time in minutes
Milliliters per Hour Total volume in mL ÷ number of hours
Infusion Time Total volume to be infused ÷ mL per hour to be infused
Adult Drip Factor 20 gtts/minute
Pediatric Drip Factor 60 gtts/minute
  • Maintenance Fluid Rate (m.f.r. for the purposes of this paper)
    • 1st 10kg: 100mL * kg
    • 2nd 10kg: 50mL * kg
    • 3rd for every additional kg: 20mL * kg
    • The sum of these values will determine the m.f.r. per day
      • m.f.r. per hour is the value of the m.f.r. per day divided by 24 hours.
Weight Range Required Daily Fluid
0-10kg 100mL per kg
10-20kg 1,000mL + 50mL per each kg above 10kg
20-70kg 1,500mL = 20mL per each kg above 20kg
Over 70kg 2,500mL (adult requirement)
  • Volume/Time IV mL Rate (given an amount of liquid and a time constraint, measure the necessary flow rate when using an electronic infusion pump)
    • Volume (mL) over Time (hr) = Y (Flow Rate in mL/hr)
  • Volume/Time IV Drop Rate (given an amount of liquid, a time constraint and a drop factor (gtts/mL), measure the necessary flow rate in gtts/min when using a manual IV)
    • Volume (mL) over Time (min) * Drop Factor (gtts/mL) = Y (Flow Rate in gtts/min)
  • Mass/Time IV mL Rate (measure the necessary flow rate in mL/hr based on the given mass per volume, to determine the order in quantity of mass per time)
    • Ordered Per Hour over Have * Volume (mL) = Y (Flow Rate in mL/hr)

(iStudentNurse, 2013) (Dosage Help, 2007)

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