How to Calculate the Pump Rate for an IV Pump

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The IV flow rate is an important component of patient treatment.
The IV flow rate is an important component of patient treatment. (Image: suero image by FRAN from Fotolia.com)

The pump rate for any pump is calculated in units of volume per time. For an IV pump, these rates are easiest to calculate in milliliters per minute or per hour. This figure becomes important when medical professionals need to figure out the dose of medication or other substance that a patient needs to get through his IV. Calculating the pump rate for a patient requires precise measurements and attention to detail to ensure that the patient receives the correct dose of intravenous fluids.

Things You'll Need

  • IV drip
  • Log book
  • Clock
  • Calculator

Check the fluid level in the IV bag. You will need an exact fluid level, so you may want to wait until the fluid level in the bag reaches an exact measurement such as 500 milliliters (mL).

Record the exact time at which you checked the fluid level.

Wait until the fluid level reaches the next exact measurement level. If you began to record the fluid level at 500 mL, you will probably need to wait until the IV fluid level in the bag reaches 450 or 400 mL.

Record the exact time at which the fluid reached the lower level that you recorded.

Subtract the second IV fluid level measurement from your first IV fluid measurement. If you recorded the times at 500 mL and 400 mL, then you would subtract 400 from 500 to get 100 mL.

Count the number of minutes between your first time recording and your second time recording. For example, if the IV reached 500 mL at 1:40 and 400 mL at 2:26, then your total time is 46 minutes.

Divide the number that you got in step 5 by the number that you got in step 6. This will give you your final IV flow rate. In this example, you would divide 100 mL by 46 minutes to get a final flow rate of 2.17 mL per minute.

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