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Improved Speed and Accuracy of Calculations With a Programmable Calculator in Pediatric Emergency Scenarios

Marlene Melzer-Lange, MD; David Wyatt, MD; Christine Walsh-Kelly, MD; Douglas Smith, MD; Mary A. Hegenbarth, MD; Carl S. L. Eisenberg, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1991;145(3):264-266. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1991.02160030032016.
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• Both mathematical and selection errors may occur when ordering drug or fluid therapy in a busy emergency department. In an attempt to improve the speed and accuracy of such calculations, we programmed a hand-held calculator to assist in drug and intravenous fluid therapy dosages and rates for three emergency situations: diabetic ketoacidosis, asthma, and asystole. Performance by 58 subjects at various levels of training was compared when using either the programmable calculator or standard materials and methods. When standard methods were used, an average of 30.6 minutes was needed to complete the three scenarios, with an accuracy of 73%; by contrast, use of programmable calculator resulted in a significant decline in time needed to calculate doses (an average of only 8.5 minutes), with an improved accuracy of 98%. The use of a programmable calculator can result in a significant improvement in both speed and accuracy of drug and fluid selection and dosage and rate calculations, regardless of the level of the subject's medical training.

(AJDC. 1991;145:264-266)

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