A survey of drug-dose calculation skills of Australian tertiary hospital doctors

Chanelle M. Simpson, Gerben B. Keijzers*, James F. Lind

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To assess the ability of doctors to calculate drug doses and their workplace prescribing and calculation habits. Design and setting: Prospective, questionnaire-based observational study conducted at a 570-bed teaching hospital in February 2007. Participants: Convenience sample of 190 doctors, representing all acute medical and surgical disciplines and diverse levels of experience. Main outcome measures: Demographic data, self-reported prescribing habits, predicted score on a 12-item test of ability to calculate drug doses, score considered adequate for peers, and actual score. Results: 141 doctors (74%) completed the questionnaire. The mean actual score on the test was 72.5% (95% Cl, 67.8%-77.3%), which was similar to the group's mean predicted score (74.7%; 95% Cl, 71.0%-78.5%) but significantly lower than the mean of the score they considered adequate (91.6%; 95% Cl, 89.5%-93.8%) (P<0.001). Subgroup analyses showed that senior doctors and those in critical care specialties (intensive care, emergency medicine and anaesthesia) achieved significantly higher actual scores than junior doctors and those in non-critical care specialties, respectively. Conclusions: Doctors expect their colleagues to perform significantly better in a drug-dose calculation test than they expect to, or can achieve, themselves. Junior staff and those in non-critical care specialties should be targeted for education in the skill of drug-dose calculation to reduce the risk of medication error and its consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-120
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'A survey of drug-dose calculation skills of Australian tertiary hospital doctors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this