App Review

Medical calculator apps allow point of care, rapid decision-making

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Calculate your patient’s appropriate drug dosage on the spot



The most useful applications (apps) for health care professionals and students? Medical calculator apps (along with drug reference and disease diagnosis apps), according to surveys of clinicians and students.1,2 The utility of calculator apps to these groups is not surprising; calculator apps fall in the category of clinical decision-making apps, which also includes decision support systems, clinical treatment guidelines, disease diagnosis aids, differential diagnosis aids, laboratory test ordering, laboratory test interpretation, and medical exams.3 Calculator apps obviously save time as most health care providers have not memorized the many medical formulas and do not have computational speed. I have previously discussed other, more ObGyn-specific calculators, such as due date calculators.4,5 In this App Review column, however, I would like to highlight 3 general calculator apps: Calculate by QxMD, CliniCalc Medical Calculator, and Medscape. Researchers found all 3 apps 100% accurate and contained the most functions desired by internists.6 The apps are available at no cost and include many unique calculators. My colleagues and I actually used Calculate by QxMD to verify calculations in a previous study.7

A clinical example for how to apply calculators in practice is as follows: A multiparous patient at term has undergone an unscheduled cesarean delivery for arrest of dilation and intra-amniotic infection. You need to decide if the patient requires anti‑coagulants for deep venous thrombosis (DVT) prophylaxis and her necessary daily dose for gentamicin for postpartum infection prophylaxis. You can use Medscape’s body mass index (BMI) calculator to find out that this patient’s BMI is 45 kg/m2 and that DVT prophylaxis is in fact indicated. You also can use QxMD’s ideal body weight calculator to get the patient’s weight and determine the appropriate daily dose for gentamicin.

The TABLE provides more information on the apps, with its inclusions based on a shortened version of the APPLICATIONS scoring system, APPLI (app comprehensiveness, price, platform, literature used, and important special features).7

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