Emerg Med J 30:241-242 doi:10.1136/emermed-2011-200929
  • Prehospital care

Mathematical and drug calculation abilities of paramedic students

  1. Brett Williams
  1. Department of Community Emergency Health and Paramedic Practice, Monash University, Frankston, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Kathryn Eastwood, Monash University, Department of Community Emergency Health and Paramedic Practice, Frankston 3199, Victoria, Australia; kathryn.eastwood{at}
  1. Contributors KE: Study conception, background; collected, collated, analysed data and wrote the manuscript. MB: Discussed core ideas of the study, assisted with study design and data analysis and manuscript writing. BW: Discussed core ideas of the study, assisted with study design and helped to write the manuscript. There were no other contributors to this study.

  • Accepted 5 March 2012
  • Published Online First 13 April 2012


Aim The objective of this study was to determine if undergraduate paramedics could accurately perform common drug calculations and basic mathematical computations normally required in the workplace.

Method A descriptive paper-based questionnaire collecting demographical data, student attitudes regarding their drug calculation performance, and answers to a series of basic mathematical and drug calculation questions was administered to undergraduate paramedic students.

Results The mean score was 39.5% with only 3.3% of students (n=3) scoring greater than 90%, and 63% (n=58) scoring 50% or less. Conceptual errors made up 48.5%, arithmetical 31.1% and computational 17.4%.

Conclusion This study suggests undergraduate paramedics have deficiencies in performing accurate calculations with conceptual errors indicating a fundamental lack of mathematical understanding.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Free sample
This recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of EMJ.
View free sample issue >>

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.


Among patients with minor TBI (GCS 13-15) getting CT scans ≥ 24 hours after injury, what proportion have a traumatic finding?


0.5% - 43% response rate
3% - 41% response rate
10% - 16% response rate

Related original article: PCT head imaging in patients with head injury who present after 24 h of injury: a retrospective cohort study

Navigate This Article