Learn how to split or half medications as a nurse.
Why do we split pills?
As a nurse, we may have to split a medication in order to equal the dosage ordered by the physician. For example, the physician may order 2 mg of a medication, but you’re only supplied with a 4 mg tablet.
Therefore, you have to half the tablet to equal the ordered dose.
Video Demonstration on How to Split a Medication
Steps on How to Split a Pill
- Perform hand hygiene and gather supplies (pill cutter, medication, gloves)
- Confirm the patient’s 5 rights for medication administration (right patient, right medication, right dose, right time, and right route)
- Don gloves and place pill in the pill splitter
- Close the pill splitter which will cause the pill to split
- Discard the other half of the pill per hospital protocol *NOTE: if medication is a controlled substance don’t forget to waste the other half with another nurse
- Administer medication to patient
- Clean the pill cutter
Tips for Halving Medications
- Always, be very careful when splitting medications because you can give an incorrect dose. Therefore, it is always necessary to use a pill splitter (instead of using your fingertips, hands, or another object) to half medications.
- Not all medications can be split. If you’re unsure if a medication can be split, call pharmacy and ask them.
- If medication has a scored line, cut along this line to achieve the most accurate cut.
- Always clean pill cutter in between medications and patients to prevent contamination.
- Don’t forget to waste the other half of a controlled substance.
- Sometimes, when you split a medication it will fall apart into small pieces and you can’t tell which part is which. Follow your hospital’s protocol for this situation. The places I’ve worked we’re required to return it to pharmacy so the patient can be credited and to start over with a new medication.
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