December 6, 2016

Medication Smartphone Application Recommendations

Regardless of nursing specialty or work location, a large number of nurses administer medications in some form or fashion. From oral to intravenous, there is a multitude of drugs that patients are expected to take during the disease management process. One continuing goal throughout my profession is to understand the inner workings of drugs, as many problems derive from the lack of knowledge in pharmacology. Drug framework, timeline, and side effects are topics in which nurses should have some level of expertise in. For those who had or are having a problem with medication education, I hope my suggestions help in your medicine wisdom.

Drug Framework

As a new nurse, I often cared for patients who took 5 to 10 medications during the morning medication pass. For example, a patient would take lisinopril, metoprolol, and carvedilol at 9 A.M. As a nurse, I knew all these medications were cardiac in nature, but there was a lack of understanding concerning the drug's performance. Often, either pharmacy or the provider will provide a reason for use, along with parameters. These instructions often include verbiage, such as hold medication(s) if the SBP is less than 120. The purpose of these drugs, in this case, was the management of hypertension. If these drugs were administered, and the patient had borderline hypotension pre-drug administration, the result would be profound hypotension and the need for supportive measures post-drug administration (e.g., bolus or vasopressor). As nurses, we must comprehend the goal of drug therapy and factors that could potentially halt treatment. If your institution doesn't provide parameters of administration, as nurses, we must do our research and understand the drug's indication of use. If a drug causes a decrease in SA nodal conduction, there will be a reduction in the heart rate. Knowing the physiological effects of the medicine you are administering is crucial toward understanding its purpose.

Drug Timeline

After you understand the drug's purpose and effects, it's time to examine the timeline regarding the drug's half-life and excretion details. When a patient discontinues a drug, the combination of metabolism and excretion will cause a decline of the drug in the body. The half-life of a drug is an indication of how quickly that decline occurs. Drug half-life is defined as the time required for the amount of drug in the body to decrease by 50%. The half-lives of medications can range from minutes to upwards of one week. For example, the half-life of morphine is three hours. By definition, this means that the body stores of morphine will decrease by 50% every three hours, regardless of how much morphine is in the body. If there is 50 mg of morphine in the body, 25 mg (50% of 50 mg) will be lost in three hours. If there is only 2 mg of morphine in the body, only 1 mg (50% of 2 mg) will be lost in three hours. Understanding a drug's half-time is crucial for dosage intervals and intravenous rate titration. Oh, and let's not forget excretion. Drug excretion is defined as the removal of drugs from the body. Drugs and their metabolites can exit the body in forms of urine, bile, sweat, saliva, breast milk, and expired air. The most important organ for drug excretion is the kidney. So, if a patient has a body or fluid dysfunction in any of the areas mentioned above, drug excretion may be altered.

Drug Side Effects

After the drug's indication and timeline are understood, we can move to potential side effects. Once a medication is administered, there can be unwanted side effects. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If these symptoms present themselves minutes or hours after medication administration, the medication could be the culprit. The goal is to understand the primary cause of these new symptoms in order to provide a quick remedy. For example, a patient is administered an antibiotic. During administration, the patient becomes nauseous. Your first step should be to confirm if the antibiotic could cause nausea or if it is unrelated and needs further investigation. If the antibiotic is the cause, discontinuing the medication should relieve the symptoms and an antiemetic could be provided. But if the drug isn't linked to nausea, a focused gastrointestinal assessment may be necessary. The goal is to provide prompt care and knowing the cause does that. Providing a patient with a list of potential side effects is important. It offers the patient the ability to make an educated healthcare decision.

Drug Resources

That is it. Seems like a lot huh? Luckily there are many drug applications on the market used to help medical professionals in obtaining this type of information fast. I've used my smartphone during my nursing career and found all the above information with a simple touch of the screen. The following are amazing drug applications that provide extensive information regarding the topics mentioned above: