How to Use Math in Medical Assisting

Medical assistants perform several types of basic math.
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Medical assistants perform several types of basic math.

Medical assistants, like most workers, use math on a daily basis. The kind of math used by medical assistants, who perform both medical and clerical tasks, is fairly basic and does not generally require more than a high school diploma. However, there is a variety of tasks that medical assistants perform, each requiring its own type of math. The increased automation of medical offices has minimized the amount of manual calculations required, but knowing how to do these calculations is still required, in case of a mechanical failure.

    Calculate bills using basic arithmetic. Basic addition and subtraction is required for the billing part of a medical assistant's job. Medical assistants calculate the patient's bill, which is a total of the separate costs of each procedure they received in that visit. The medical assistant than deducts the patient's co-pay and insurance payment amount, if applicable, and then bills the patient for the remainder.

    Use simple algebra to determine medication amounts. There are several available formulas used to calculate medication dosages. For example, Clark's rule for calculating the child's dose of a medication is: (child's weight in pounds/150 pounds) X adult dosage. Medical assistants may be called upon to calculate the dosage required for a particular medication.

    Use basic graphing techniques. Many doctors' offices use standard graphs and rubrics for calculating weight and height, particularly of children. Medical assistants are asked to find the height and weight of a patient and then graph it on a standard graph. For example, children's height and weight are put on a scale of median height and weight for children that age in the country.


    • Accurate calculations are extremely important in the medical field, as inaccurate numbers can cause severe consequences, especially when it comes to drug dosages.

2016 Salary Information for Medical Assistants

Medical assistants earned a median annual salary of $31,540 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, medical assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $26,860, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $37,760, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 634,400 people were employed in the U.S. as medical assistants.

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