Janice Gabriel describes the use of subcutaneous infusion in medication administration


Intravenous literature: Gabriel, J. (2013) The use of subcutaneous infusion in medication administration. British Journal of Nursing. 22(Sup9), p.S6 – S12.


The subcutaneous administration of medications is an area that receives little attention compared with other types of parenteral therapy. Parenteral administration is used by many thousands of patients who self-administer their medication on a daily basis-for example, those using insulin to manage diabetes, recipients of some types of hormone therapy and so on. It is also an effective route for the continuous administration of medication(s) in individuals who are terminally ill. Patients approaching the end of their life may be unable to tolerate the administration of oral medication to control their symptoms and make them more comfortable. This paper will discuss how subcutaneous infusion can be used to deliver these medications, but at the same time how important the selection of the most appropriate subcutaneous infusion device is to the overall comfort of the patient, and to reduce the potential for sharps-related injuries to healthcare workers. Appropriate device selection, together with its management, is an important contributing factor to patient safety and comfort. It will diminish the potential for premature device loss, which can lead to repeated insertion procedures for the patient, as well as delaying their medication. There is also a resource implication for the NHS, as the replacement of any device involves the use of additional equipment and staff time. Additionally, the use of any infusion device poses a risk to healthcare workers of acquiring a bloodborne infection should they experience a percutaneous injury. Knowledge of what equipment is available will reduce the potential risk to these staff.

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