Numeracy in Nursing and Healthcare:
Calculations and Practice

By Pearl Shihab
August 2009
Pearson Education
Distrubuted by Trans-Atlantic Publications Inc.
ISBN: 9780273720744
248 pages
$47.50 Paper Original


Competency in Maths is essential for safe nursing practice; this is the only text to clearly explain Maths specifically for students in nursing and healthcare, expelling the tears and frustration that can be experienced whilst trying to grapple with the subject.  

The author has been teaching anatomy, physiology and pharmacology to nursing students for 25 years, and is well placed to understand the fears that students have when addressing numbers and maths.  This text will help students to handle numbers confidently in the administration of drugs and other practice settings.  Clinical examples will be used to illustrate the use of arithmetic and the student will be able to work at their own pace throughout.  

In addition to drug calculations, the text will allow students to feel confident in other practice settings such as: calculating the body mass index (BMI) of a patient, reading and interpreting a blood result back from the lab, interpreting demographic data, calculating the nutritional intake for a patient, and measuring a patient’s blood pressure, pulse, and temperature.


Chapter 1   Basic Arithmetic Skills

 The things you don’t want to ask about but need to know.

Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division from the beginning to give you confidence for    tackling the chapters involving drug calculations.

Chapter 2  Decimals and Other Fractions

 How to deal with the bits and pieces.

 Using the skills from chapter 1 to calculate vulgar and decimal fractions in preparation for

calculating small drug doses.  

Chapter 3  SI Units

 How’s your French? You only need one phrase ‘Système International d’Unités’.

 Learn about units that are used to record patients’ height, weight, temperature and fluid    balance as well as measurements used for drug therapy.

Chapter 4  Drug calculations

 Pills, potions and pinpricks.

Calculating all types of drug treatments – tablets, medicines and injections

Chapter 5  Drug concentrations

 The jokers in the pack.

Calculating drugs that are not measured in SI units.

Chapter 6  Per cent, percentage and ratios

 Hundreds and thousands and much more.

 Find out how much 20% off really means and learn to calculate the amount of drug is in a    percentage solution.

Chapter 7  Intravenous fluid and drug administration

 Drips, drops and devices

 Intravenous fluids need to be given over a prescribed period of time. This chapter shows you    how to do the calculations using different types of fluid administration devices.

Chapter 8  Common Clinical Measurements

 Charting, charting and more charting.

 Taking and recording patients’ vital signs forms an important part in monitoring their progress    to recovery. This chapter shows you how to record this information accurately.

Chapter 9  Physiological Measurements

 Blood, but no sweat and tears.

 Get to know what is normal and recognise the abnormal. Monitor patients’ nutritional status and    be aware of the energy value of food.

Chapter 10  Statistics and reading research articles

 No ostriches here please.

 A gentle introduction to some of the terms used in journal articles and knowing what to look for    when reading articles in preparation for assignments and completing portfolios.


I  Roman numerals and their Arabic equivalent
II  Multiples and divisions of SI units
III  Important elements in the body. Isotopes and Avogadro’s constant.
IV  Physiological reference values for adults
V  Abbreviations used in prescribing
VI  An example of a medicine chart
VII  Peak flow measurements
VIII  Body Mass Index and Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST)
IX  Nomogram for calculating body surface area
X  Weight conversion chart
XI  Summary of methods for drug calculations


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