Doctors or Mathematicians?

Statistics and Data in Medicine

Statistics can be defined as a branch of mathematics dealing with the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of masses of numerical data. It can be a very complicated area of mathematics but essential in the medical world.

Medicine has become increasingly reliant on mathematics in recent years. Statistics are used every single day in the hospital to ensure the correct dosage of medicine is administered to patients. While most adults are given the same dosage, the dose for children must be carefully calculated because it is much easier to poison a child. Prescriptions need to be calculated very specifically based on the weight of the patient, how many times the medication must be taken each day, how long the prescription will need to last etc. Doctors must also consider how long the medication will stay in the patient’s body as this will determine how often the patient needs to take their medication in order to keep a sufficient amount of it in their body. Doctors must be able to do these calculations mentally with speed and accuracy. Therefore, the understanding of mathematical concepts are a necessity when practising medicine.

IV drips also require careful calculating to ensure it wont do more harm than good. The maths involved in fluid prescribing include calculating how much fluid has ben lost, how much is needed for the patient and not too much that the electrolytes become diluted.

Mathematics is at the centre of interpreting research and probabilities in medicine. Medical professionals use graphs to record patients’ deterioration/improvement which allow others to read the information and analyse it to know the next steps in their treatment. Graphs can be used to look closely at infectious diseases and make realistic predictions as they use patterns of distribution, how fast it manifests and the areas located to work out the future impact of the disease.

A new approach to improve the health care system, which is based around mathematics, aims to predict influxes in patient admittance to hospitals. Doctors and hospitals use twitter to search for certain symptoms of an illness/outbreak in tweets to predict when they will seek medical advice as symptoms continue or become worse. This can help prepare doctors and nurses to deal with this.

Mathematics is absolutely crucial in medicine as one small mistake could cost a life.


Medicine and Math – Math Central. 2017. Medicine and Math – Math Central. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 15 November 2017].

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