Polyatomic Ions

     Poly – Many

      Atomic – Atoms

On your journey through Chemistry Health, you’ll come upon a dragon called Polyatomic Ions! Many students seem to have trouble with these, but really all it is — is — just a bundle of memorization. You have to find a pattern for your brain to absorb these. In my case — I just remember them by the numbers (exponents and subscripts) along with the “letters”. We’ll call them letters to be organized and for the sake of simplicity. Just remember them as you do anything else — perhaps as if they’re an algebra formula. They’re not! However, memorization is memorization! There’s NO need to fear Polyatomic Ions. 

Here is a list of Polyatomic Ions, however, my professor ONLY made us remember 21 of these!

ion list

My advice is study and memorize whatever x ions your professor gives you. They’re pretty easy to recall once you get several down in your mind. If you can get several down, you can get them ALL down! Later on, they could perhaps come in useful in your nursing career. 

Correlations: (Xenon)

Notes on Xenon.

By: Billy Cahill for Cemistry 151 / Chemistry health.chemcopy1

Written notes above.

Text notes:


Xenon is a medical gas capable of establishing neuroprotection, inducing anesthesia as well as serving in modern laser technology and nuclear medicine as a contrast agent. In spite of its high cost, its lack of side effects, safe cardiovascular and organoprotective profile and effective neuroprotective role after hypoxic-ischemic injury (HI) favor its applications in clinics. Xenon performs its anesthetic and neuroprotective functions through binding to glycine site of glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor competitively and blocking it. This blockage inhibits the overstimulation of NMDA receptors, thus preventing their following downstream calcium accumulating cascades. Xenon is also used in combination therapies together with hypothermia or sevoflurane. The neuroprotective effects of xenon and hypothermia cooperate synergistically whether they are applied synchronously or asynchronously. Distinguishing properties of Xenon promise for innovations in medical gas field once further studies are fulfilled and Xenon’s high cost is overcome.

Taken from BioMed Central, Medical Gas Research / Xe

Correlations: (Barium, Potassium, Lithium, Iodine, Oxygen)


My notes on correlating chemistry with the medical field, are notes on how we will see chemistry within the medical setting. It’s not like nurses are chemists, however, as a nurse you will see chemical names and formulas.

Let’s start with BARIUM (Ba):

Polyatomic Ion

barium sulfate 1

Lewis structure

barium sulfate 2

Barium Sulfate is a polyatomic ion, and you will learn about these in your chemistry health course. 


barium sulfate 4

Barium Sulfate is used frequently as a radiocontrast agent for X – ray imaging. It can also be used for other diagnostic procedures. It is used mainly for imaging of the GI tract during what is colloquially known as a “barium meal”. It can be taken orally, or by enema, as a suspension of fine particles in a thick milk like solution (usually has sweetened flavors added).


Barium Sulfate

barium sulfate 3

Next, we’ll go to POTASSIUM (K):

Potassium Permanganate

Polyatomic ion

potassium 1

Lewis structure

potassium 2


Potassium Permanganate

Potassium Permanganate is used as an antiseptic.


Miscellaneous info on potassium:

Taken from MedicineNet.com

Potassium: The major positive ion (cation) found inside cells. The chemical notation for potassium is K+. The proper level of potassium is essential for normal cell function. An abnormal increase in potassium (hyperkalemia) or decrease in potassium (hypokalemia) can profoundly affect the nervous system and heart, and when extreme, can be fatal. The normal blood potassium level is 3.5’5.0 milliEquivalents/liter (mEq/L), or 3.5 international units.


Lithium (Li):

Lithium carbonate is used to treat Bipolar Disorder amongst other mental ailments.

Polyatomic Ion


Lewis structure





Iodine (I):



Iodine reduces thyroid hormone and can kill fungus, bacteria, and other microorganisms such as amoebas. A specific kind of iodine called potassium iodide is also used to treat (but not prevent) the effects of a radioactive accident.

Oxygen (O):

Medical oxygen is used to: … restore tissue oxygentension by improving oxygen availability in a wide range of conditions such as COPD, cyanosis, shock, severe hemorrhage, carbon monoxide poisoning, major trauma, cardiac/respiratory arrest. aid resuscitation. provide life support for artificially ventilated patients.



The notes and information gathered above is NOT all the uses of these elements and compounds. It’s just a highlight of how chemistry relates to nursing. There are many more ways these elements and compounds can be used within the medical field.