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Brahmadeo Dewprashad
Department of Science
Borough of Manhattan Community College / City University of New York
A Case of Medication Error: Conversion Factors in Clinical Calculations

This case study begins with a real news article about a six-month-old baby who died from an overdose of medication administered by hospital staff. The infant was diagnosed with pneumonia and given an intravenous dose of the antibiotic azithromycin, the appropriate medication for the diagnosed condition. However, the infant was mistakenly given an adult dose that led to cardiac shock. This incident is used in the case study to show how many of the core concepts covered in General Organic and Biological Chemistry (GOB)/Introductory General Chemistry directly relate to the lives or career plans of students enrolled in the course. Concepts taught in the case study include the use of conversion factors in clinical calculations; inter-conversion of temperatures in Fahrenheit and Celsius scale; construction and interpretation of graphs; the etiology, manifestation, diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia; and the medication administration system and the role that nurses can play in preventing medication overdose. The case can also be used in introductory mathematics courses for Allied Health sciences.

A Case of Respiratory Distress 

This clinical case study was developed to engage students by making connections between core concepts in chemistry and physiological processes in the body. The case pertains to medication-induced methemoglobinemia, its etiology, diagnosis, and treatments. Concepts taught by the case include the use of conversion factors, pH, buffering, Le Chatelier's principle, blood chemistry, and respiratory and metabolic acidosis and alkalosis. The case is suitable for use in a General, Organic, and Biological (GOB) Chemistry course or other introductory general chemistry course as well as undergraduate physiology courses. The case also could be adapted for use in undergraduate pharmacology and medicinal chemistry courses.

A Light Lunch?: A Case in Calorie Counting

This case study was developed to engage students by making connections between core concepts in chemistry and obesity related factors. The case is in the form of a story between two friends and their underestimation of the calories they consumed in a meal and their overestimation of the efforts needed to maintain a healthy body weight. Concepts taught by the case include use of conversion factors, calculation of percentages and body mass index, and calculations of caloric values of different foods. The case is suitable for use in courses in general, organic, and biological chemistry as well as in undergraduate nutrition courses.

Cats Have Nine Lives, But Only One Liver: The Effects of Acetaminophen

In this case, a college student gives her cat Tylenol not knowing its potential harmful effects. The cat survives, but the incident motivates her to research the reaction mechanism underlying the liver toxicity of acetaminophen. The case outlines possible reaction schemes that would explain why acetaminophen-containing products can be toxic to the liver. Students are required to write a detailed mechanism for each. The case also presents evidence from the literature that supports one of the reaction schemes and eliminates the others. Students must identify the correct reaction scheme and mechanism based on this evidence. The case can be used in undergraduate organic chemistry, biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, and pharmacology courses.

The Chemistry of Cocaine 

This case study on the chemistry of cocaine is in the form of a classroom discussion between a professor and her students about cocaine, its addictive properties, a search for an addiction treatment, and the chemistry involved in the synthesis of cocaine in its various forms. The case can be used to teach nucleophilic addition reactions, nucleophilic acyl substitution, and cocaine metabolism. In addition, it provides students with experience in locating, reading, and analyzing a research paper.  The case was designed for the second course in a two-course sequence in undergraduate organic chemistry, but it could be adapted for medicinal chemistry classes.

The Chemistry of Curcumin: The Health-Promoting Ingredient in Tumeric

This case study was developed to engage students by making connections between core concepts in organic chemistry and the health-promoting chemical, curcumin, found in turmeric. The case is in the form of a dialogue between a couple about the surprising color change observed in their turmeric-containing soup when baking soda is added. Concepts taught by the case include keto-enol tautomerization, resonance theory, chelation, and pH dependant hydrolysis and ionization. Developed for a first-semester organic chemistry course, the case could be adapted for use in undergraduate biochemistry and food science courses.