Principles of drug administration: Oral administration


Chapter 19

Principles of drug administration


Oral administration



This chapter considers the safe management of medication for the oral route, the preparations available and the role and responsibilities of the midwife. The procedures are described for adult and neonatal administration. It should be read in conjunction with Chapter 18.


The majority of medication taken via the mouth (orally) is absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract, often in the stomach. However, the distinction is made between medication that is swallowed and that which is held in the mouth.





Oral medication


Ansell & Dougherty (2011) suggest there are distinct advantages in using the oral route for medication. It is often an easy and convenient route without too much disruption or embarrassment, and often the medications are the least expensive. However, for some situations alternative routes or preparations may be needed:



These questions and the answers to them constitute a risk assessment. If the oral route is not safe or inappropriate at that time, an alternative route/medication should be prescribed. Oral medication is given via nasogastric or other enteral feeding tubes in particular circumstances.


Oral preparations may be affected by other constituents in the stomach, and so the manufacturer’s directions should be followed (e.g. before, during or after a meal) for maximum effectiveness. In the same way, the medication should be administered in the form that it comes in; crushing, dissolving, cutting or opening a tablet/capsule when this is not indicated can cause under- or overdose and also constitutes using a medication ‘off licence’ – the midwife becomes fully liable for its effects (Chapter 18). Medication that is modified in its release is designed to pass through the stomach and be absorbed in the small intestine. Altering this medication in any way can cause inactivity or immediate activity, both of which can be dangerous. Some medications have an enteric coating to prevent damage to the lining of the stomach. Oral medications are:


Oct 17, 2016 | Posted by in MIDWIFERY | Comments Off on Principles of drug administration: Oral administration
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