Giving Medicines

There are 3 ‘rights’ always to be kept in mind when giving medicines:

RIGHT MEDICATION: RIGHT AMOUNT and RIGHT TIME
• Look at the label on the bottle or container
• Measure the amount correctly and put it into a small glass to prevent spills
• Medicines are given at regular times, before the effect of the previous dose wears off and before the symptom recurs

Patients experience a wide range of symptoms, some due to their disease, others caused by it treatment. Pain is one of the most distressing symptoms in palliative care, other distressing symptoms are:

• Nausea (feeling sick)
• Breathing difficulties
• Sleep disturbances
• Fluid build-up – swollen ankles and legs known as oedema.
In the abdomen (ascites)

Medication is given regularly to alleviate these symptoms
If your patient is taking several different drugs your Community Sister/ doctor may have drawn up a chart for the patient/caregiver to follow.
If your patient has been admitted to St Lukes Hospice In patient Unit he will have been given a medication chart to follow on discharge.
You may discover that the patient or his family have made changes in medication and have not informed the Community Sister. It is helpful to her if you report this.

It is also important for you to inform the Community Sister if pain or any other symptom is returning before the next dose of medication is due, so that a more effective dose or different drug can be used.

The Syringe Driver
• A portable, battery operated device for mechanically delivering drugs at a pre-determined rate via the appropriate route, e.g. subcutaneously (under the surface of the skin) or through an epidural (into the spinal canal)

Indications for use
• Severe difficulty is swallowing
• Persistent nausea and vomiting
• Patient too weak for drugs by mouth

Advantages
• Constant pain control (no peaks or troughs)
• Combination of drugs can be given via one route
• Avoid 4 hourly injections
• Reloaded once in 24 hours
• Patients retain mobility

Disadvantages
• Inflammation or infection at insertion site
• Check site regularly for redness: swelling: leaking

The Alarm
• If the alarm sounds, it could be due to one of the following:
• Empty syringe
• Kinked tubing
• Blocked needle
• Jammed plunger

Do’s and Don’ts
• Do check that light is flashing
• Do store syringe away from light as much as possible
• Don’t drop the syringe driver
• Don’t wear the syringe driver whilst bathing/showering
• Don’t immerse the syringe driver in water

Notify you Community Sister immediately when if a problem arises

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