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Medication Administration Procedures

Medical assistants must know the different forms of medications and how they are prepared and administered correctly to the patients.

Medication Administration Step-by-Step


  • Hand patient a tissue
  • Cotton balls
  • Have patient look up as far as possible
  • Pull down on lower eye lid
  • Rest hand that is instilling the med on the forehead
  • Instill drops into lower lid at inner corner
  • Close lid
  • Have patient move eye around
  • Hold cotton ball at corner while patient rolls eye
  • Ointment can cause blurriness until it all melts


  • Tilt head to side where medication is to be applied
  • Pull ear up and back for adults
  • Pull ear down and back for children
  • Put drops down into ear
  • Have patient wait 5 min. with ear up
  • Can use cotton ball to ensure medication stays
  • Apply to other ear 5 min. later

Nose Drops:

  • Put pillow under patient's shoulders
  • Tilt head back
  • Place tip of applicator into nostril
  • Instill correct number of drops
  • Direct patient to keep head back so it absorbs into the sinus

Nasal Sprays:

  • Have patient sit up
  • Insert tip of container into nostril
  • Have patient take a deep breath as you squirt
  • No need to tilt head back

Lung Sprays:

  • Have patient stand up
    - this lowers the diaphragm and allows for better lung expansion
  • Shake the inhaler well - shake for 15-30 sec.
  • Let patient place the spacer device on the inhaler
  • Instruct patient to breathe out to the end of a normal breath
  • Ask patient to tilt chin up - do not hyper-extend
  • Let patient place spacer tube in mouth
    - instruct patient to seal lips around the tube
  • Ask patient to activate inhaler
    - patient must inhale slowly and deeply over 5 seconds
    - be sure patient doesn't use the nose
    - patient must hold breath for 10 seconds - before exhaling
  • Wait for 2-5 minutes before next puff
  • Give water to rinse mouth after all doses are taken

Topical Meds:

Open wound 

  • sterile technique - Sterile cotton swabs or tongue depressor

Nitro paste:

  • Use a unit dose patch
  • Shiny area up, remove sealed portion

Prepare own nitro paste: 

  • Tear off piece of nitro paper
  • Light print showing thrugh is the side you want up
  • Start at beginning of line, squeeze slowly so med is no bigger or smaller than top of tube
  • Fold paper in half
    - spread medication over all paper
  • Open and place on patient
  • Tape in place
    -move around patient in clockwise manner
  • If ordered chest only, then alternate side to side
    - Look for previous patch before applying your new patch

To remove: 

  • Wet one end of paper towel
  • Take off, wipe, and dry area
  • Watch for reactions to this medication
    - headache and lightheadedness

Rectal/ Vaginal: 

  • Need lubricating jelly, suppository insterter with medication
  • Wear gloves
  • Remove suppository from package
  • Lubricate with jelly
  • Insert suppository into rectum or vaginal canal (rectal:1 finger for adults, ½-1 inch for children
  • Patient remains lying for 10-15 min after insertion to ensure absorption of medication

Oral Medications: 


- Can be swallowed directly or sublingual (leave these under the tongue until dissolved)
- Open pack & drop into medicine cup

Granule/ Powders

- Pour into a cup up to correct dosage


- Unit dose is a sealed container
- Water based liquid - read meniscus down
- Oil based liquid - read meniscus up


Parentral Meds: 


- Unit doses and self prepared

The numbers represent:

1. Volume a
2. Gauge of needle (diameter of inside of needle)
- the larger number the smaller the needle's orifice (hole)
3. Length of needle

- Insulin syringes and needles
- Tuberculin syringes and needles
- The color of the packaging represents the gauge of the needle
- All needles are interchangeable except for the insulin syringe
- The tuberculin syringe is not lure-locked, needle pulls off
- can measure in tenths and hundredths- pediatrics

  2 types of insulin syringes

a. 100 U = 1cc - each line = 2 Units
b. 50 U - each line = 1 Unit

  Unit dose syringe comes prefilled by the company

  • usually use entire contents
  • discard what will not be used

- Tubex syringe
- cartridge with holder
- prefilled
- discard into sharps container


Mixing Insulin

Clear - Regular
Cloudy - NPH or 70/30

        Mnemonic: Cloudy air - clear air - clear draw - cloudy draw

- Gently roll between hands to mix

- Always draw up clear first

  • Clean both tops with alcohol
  • Inject desired amount of air into NPH
  • Inject desired amount of air into regular
  • Withdrawal desired amount of Regular
  • Remove air bubbles
  • Withdrawal desired amount of NPH slowly
    - can not have air bubbles & must be exact measurement!

IM Injections, SQ Injections, and Z- tract: 
Learn all about injections in the Online Study Course!

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