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Mathematical and drug calculation abilities of paramedic students
  1. Kathryn Eastwood,
  2. Malcolm J Boyle,
  3. 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}


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.

  • Drug dosage calculations
  • mathematics
  • paramedics
  • medication errors
  • education
  • emergency ambulance systems
  • effectiveness
  • law

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee.

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