Article Explores the Hazards of Splitting and Crushing Medications

February 10, 2012 | Physician Practice News

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Patients should be cautioned not to split or crush a medication without checking with their healthcare provider or pharmacist, states an article published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Gerontological Nursing. According to the article, splitting or crushing pills is sometimes necessary during the administration of certain medications; however, in other instances, the practice can be dangerous and result in patient harm. The article explains that tablet splitting can be a cost-saving measure if a higher dose of a medication can be split in half, since most preparations are priced per pill or unit rather than per the number of milligrams or dose of the pill. Splitting may also make large pills easier to swallow and can allow for a lower dose of the medication to be given than what is manufactured by and available from the pharmaceutical company. According to the article, problems can occur when patients attempt to split extended-release medications, because their delivery systems are usually composed of multiple layers or configurations of medication that cannot be split without having a negative effect on the pharmacokinetic properties. Problems can also occur when patients attempt to split medications with special handling instructions.

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