The Metric System and Medication

Medication is prescribed in measurements of the metric system. Some students become anxious at just the mention of calculations. If you feel anxious and panicky, relax. We'll show you the easy way to perform these calculations.

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Table 7-1. Units and their equivalents.






1 kilogram (kg) = 1000 grams (g) 1 gram (g) = 1000 milligrams (mg) 1 milligram = 1000 micrograms (mcg) 1 kilometer = 1000 liters



1 liter (L) = 1000 milliliters (mL) = 1000 cubic centimeters (cc)

1 milliliter (mL) = 1 cubic centimeter (cc)

Medication calculation requires you to know how to multiply and divide. You'll also need to know six metric measurements and five household measurements (ounces, teaspoon, tablespoon, cup and drop).

Let's begin with the metric system. The metric system uses grams to measure weight and liters to measure volume as shown in Table 7-1. Prefixes are used to indicate the number of grams and liters. Table 7-2 shows the commonly used prefixes that you'll see when calculating medication.

Each prefix indicates the value. The prefix is placed before the unit of measure such as 1 kilogram or 1 milliliter. Look at Kilo in Table 7-2. The factor is 1000, which is larger than a gram or liter. Therefore, you multiple the gram or liter by 1000. That is, a kilogram is 1000 grams and a kiloliter is 1000 liters. The important point to remember is that the prefix of the measure implies the size of the measurement.

Table 7-2. Prefixes used in medication.






One thousand times



One hundredth part of



One thousandth part of



One millionth part of

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Do Not Panic

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