Precision in Anxiety Management: Ensuring Accurate Lorazepam (Ativan) Dosage

Effective treatment for acute anxiety and panic attacks relies on the accurate administration of medication. In this article, we will discuss how a nurse can navigate a situation where a physician orders lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg to manage the symptoms of a 45-year-old female patient experiencing acute anxiety and panic attacks. However, the pharmacy has provided 0.5 mg tablets. The nurse’s responsibility is to ensure the patient receives the correct dosage of lorazepam.

Understanding Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Acute anxiety and panic attacks can be overwhelming experiences for individuals, causing symptoms such as extreme fear, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath. Medications like lorazepam (Ativan) are often prescribed to manage these symptoms and provide relief.

Administering the Correct Dose of Lorazepam

To ensure the patient receives the correct dosage of 1 mg of lorazepam when the available tablets are 0.5 mg each, the nurse should follow these steps:

Step 1: Calculate the Change in Dosage

Begin by calculating the change in dosage needed. In this case, the prescribed dose is 1 mg, and the available tablets are 0.5 mg.

Change in dosage = New dosage – Current dosage

Change in dosage = 1 mg – 0.5 mg

Change in dosage = 0.5 mg

Step 2: Identify the Number of 0.5 mg Tablets Required

To determine how many 0.5 mg tablets are needed to achieve the change in dosage, divide the change in dosage by the strength of each tablet.

Tablets required = Change in dosage / Tablet strength

Tablets required = 0.5 mg / 0.5 mg/tablet

Tablets required = 1 tablet

The nurse should give the patient 1 tablet of lorazepam 0.5 mg to achieve the prescribed dosage of 1 mg.

Step 3: Patient Education

While administering the medication, it is important to educate the patient on the purpose of the medication, the expected effects, and any potential side effects. The nurse should also address any questions or concerns the patient may have.

Confirming the Prescription

Before proceeding with medication administration, the nurse should double-check the prescription to ensure it is accurate and corresponds to the patient’s condition and needs. If there are any discrepancies or concerns, it is advisable to consult the prescribing physician.

Ensuring Patient Comfort and Safety

Patient safety is of paramount importance. The nurse should monitor the patient during and after medication administration for any adverse reactions or side effects. It is also important to provide a calming and supportive environment to help alleviate anxiety and panic symptoms.


Administering the correct medication dosage is critical in providing effective relief for acute anxiety and panic attacks. In this case, the nurse should give the patient 1 tablet of lorazepam 0.5 mg to meet the prescribed dosage of 1 mg. Patient education, safety, and monitoring are integral components of the process, ensuring that the patient receives the intended therapeutic effect while minimizing discomfort and any potential adverse reactions.


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