IV Fluids (Drip Rate)

IV Fluids

Intravenous Fluids can supply two things: fluid volume, electrolytes, nutrients, and medications. These fluids are usually provided to: 1)Acutely expand intravascular volume; 2) To correct  an underlying imbalance in fluids or electrolytes or 3) to compensate for an ongoing problem that is affecting either fluids or electrolytes; 4) give nutrition supplement or parenteral feeding; 5)act as medium for infusion of medicine.

Drip Rates

Controlling the infusion rate of IV fluids is a simple, yet an important calculation. Calculating the drip rate depends on the type of tubing that is being used.

Two types of tubing:

Macrodrip tubing

  • Standard adult tubing 0 has a drip factor of either 10 gtts/ml  or 15 gtts/mL.

Microdrip tubing

  • has a drip factor of 60 µgtts/mL.
  • used for pediatric patients because it helps to maintain a closer watch on fluid volumes so as not to overload them. It is also used to precise infusion rates of drip medications.

Drip Rate Formula:

gtts/min = Volume to be infused in one hour x gtts/mL for drip factor Infusion time (60 minutes)


  1. An IV is initiated to a patient, the doctor want to set a TKVO (to keep vein open) rate, about 30 mL per hour. Using a macrodrip tubing with a drip factor of 15 gtts/mL. What is the drip rate?

Gtts/min = 30mL/hr x 15 gtts/mL

6o mins

= 7.5 gtts/min ~ 8 gtts/min

  1. An IV fluid is given to a child, and a physician gives an order to run the Iv at 50 mL/hr. Using the microdrip tubing with a drip factor of 60 gtts/mL, what’s the drip rate?

Gtts/minute = 50 mL/hr x 60 µgtts/mL

60 mins

= 50 µgtts/min

  1. The physician orders IV fluids to hydrate a client. The order is written as “D5NS 4 Liters over 24 hours.” Looking at the package indicates the drip factor of the tubing is 15 gtts/mL What is the drip rate?

Convert first the time, from hour to minutes:

24 (hr) x 60 (minutes) = 1440 minutes

gtts/minute =  4000 mL/hr x 15 gtts/mL


= 4166 gtts/min ~ 42 gtts/min


[1] Source: 2001 Intravenous therapy CME Package, York Region base hospital Program Markham Stouffville Hospital