Assessment of Mathematical Calculation Skills Needed for Pharmacy Technicians

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Chapter 1

Assessment of Mathematical Calculation Skills Needed for Pharmacy Technicians


Interpret the following abbreviations.

1. #, lb _____________________

2. ↓_____________________

3. npo _____________________

4. ↑_____________________

5. gtt _____________________

6. qid _____________________

7. q4h _____________________

8. mL _____________________

9. hs _____________________

10. fl _____________________

11. tbsp, T _____________________

12. mcg _____________________

*13. U _____________________

    *These abbreviations are found on the TJC Do Not Use List and ISMP’s List of Error-Prone Abbreviations, Symbols, and Dose Designations due to medication safety issues. They should not be used. You are being tested on them here because these abbreviations may still appear in the pharmacy setting.

14. cap(s) _____________________

15. gr _____________________

16. noc _____________________

17. OTC _____________________

18. non rep _____________________

19. bid _____________________

20. qh _____________________

21. q2h _____________________

22. kg _____________________

23. IM _____________________

24. IV _____________________

25. ad lib _____________________

26. image _____________________

27. tid _____________________

*28. qod _____________________

29. rep _____________________

30. qs _____________________

31. prn _____________________

32. tab _____________________

33. ung _____________________

34. syr _____________________

35. inj _____________________

36. supp _____________________

37. elix _____________________

38. image _____________________

39. image _____________________

40. image _____________________

41. qam _____________________

42. tsp, t _____________________

43. po _____________________

44. image _____________________

45. image _____________________

46. qpm _____________________

47. stat _____________________

48. q12h _____________________

49. qd _____________________

50. image _____________________

51. TO _____________________

52. q _____________________

53. image _____________________

54. image _____________________

After completing this exercise, note the abbreviations that you missed and start learning them. You will use these daily in your duties as a pharmacy technician and you must be proficient using these abbreviations.

The Need for a Pharmacy Technician to Have Mathematical Skills

Pharmacology is the study of medications and their uses. It is a science that draws from many disciplines such as anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, and psychology. Medications are powerful in treating conditions and diseases when prepared and used appropriately. When a drug is not prepared accurately, it may become a potentially deadly chemical. With many conditions and prescriptions, the difference between toxic and curative may only be the careful calculation of the correct dose or dosage of the drug.

All chemicals used as medications, or drugs, are the basis of pharmacology. Different chemical preparation does not contain the same concentration of active ingredients in solid or liquid form. Rather, each drug has its own distinct concentration of active ingredient in a dose. This safe amount of medication has been tested and given acceptable limits by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA is also responsible for the U.S. Pharmacopeia and the National Formulary—manuals that provide the exact ingredients found in medications and the strengths of medications that may be prescribed in the United States. Therefore each prescription has its own dose, and each time a prescription is written the dose must be calculated for that prescription on the basis of the patient’s age, medical condition, weight, and gender.

Pharmacy technicians must calculate the amount of medication necessary to provide each dose. Pharmacy technicians must also ensure that there are sufficient numbers of doses for the desired length of time as prescribed by the physician. Although math is not a basic pharmacology science, it is used daily in preparation of medications whether in an inpatient setting or an ambulatory care setting, such as a pharmacy where the prescription is prepared for the person to take at home. Math is used on a daily basis in all calculations of doses, dosages, and the administration of medications.

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