In the know: Getting to the root of the routes

Stressed Out Nurses Weekly, April 26, 2010

Drugs can be administered by different routes to accommodate various medication and patient needs. Whenever you are deciding on how best to administer medication, it's important to remember there are advantages and disadvantages to each.

For example, you can give medication orally. Wouldn't it be great if all medications could be given orally? No mess, no fuss—anyone who can eat could be medicated. Specific advantages of using the oral route include:

  • Oral routes don't requires a ton of cognitive effort from the patient
  • It's a cheaper, more cost-effective way to give drugs.
  • Because no needles or other intrusive devices are involved, oral administration can be safer.

However, there are also disadvantages, including:

  • Unconscious people cannot swallow medications
  • Drug dissolution and absorption can be variable or incomplete due to factors such as stomach contents, gastric pH, gastric motility, etc.
  • Some medications, such as insulin or heparin, are destroyed in the stomach, while others such as mannitol cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream.

To read more tips, check out HCPro's book, Stressed Out About Pharmacology.

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