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Subcutaneous administration of drugs in the elderly: survey of practice and systematic literature review

By Caroline Fonzo-christe, Caroline Vukasovic, Anne-florence Wasilewski-rasca and Pascal Bonnabry


Objectives and method: Survey of subcutaneous drug use and hypodermoclysis with a standardized questionnaire to 27 nursing teams and 52 physicians in a geriatric hospital department (404 beds). Evaluation of license status (CH, F, D and UK) and systematic literature review of 34 drugs used in the geriatric setting. Results: Subcutaneous route is used daily with drugs and fluids mostly for patients in palliative care (83%) or who are dehydrated (54%) when oral or IV administration is impossible (73%, 68 % respectively). Morphine (98%), haloperidol (90%), furosemide (69%) and hydromorphone (56%) by bolus (36%) or slow injection over 5 min (82%) are the main drugs used and NaCI 0.9 % (95%), and glucose 5%/NaCI 0.9 % (31 %) are commonly used for rehydration. Among the 34 drugs reviewed, only 13 (38%) are licensed for subcutaneous use in CH, UK, F or D, and only morphine (14 articles of 68) and rehydration (six articles) are evaluated in high level studies. Haloperidol and furosemide are used off-label and there are no well-designed studies supporting their subcutaneous use. Conclusion: There is a lack of information on drugs widely used by subcutaneous route in the elderly. In that context, physicians carry responsibility for the prescription. Palliative Medicine 2005; 19: 208-219 Key words: aged; drug utilization; fluid therapy; injections; palliative care; subcutaneou

Year: 2016
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