UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN MEDICAL FOUNDATION
CLINICAL POLICY AND PROCEDURE
TITLE: ADMINISTERING INHALED MEDICATIONS
Effective Date: May, 2002 Approval: See Authorization
Supersedes Protocol: None Contact: Clinical Staff Education
Reviewed October, 2003 March, 2005 March 2008 May 2009
PURPOSE: To provide guidelines for the administration of inhaled medications at
DEFINITION: Medications may be inhaled into the respiratory tract to provide rapid
absorption of the drug. Inhaled medications produce a dilation of the bronchioles and
relieve bronchospasm by opening narrowed passageways. Common medications include
bronchodilators, mucolytics, and steroids.
POLICY: Clinical staff will utilize the following guidelines to administer inhaled
medications to UWMF patients. The preparation and administration of a medication
should be completed by the same person.
SUPPLIES: Provider’s order, Medication(s), Inhalation device
1. Check each medication against provider’s order and clarify any inconsistencies.
2. Wash hands then gather equipment.
3. Identify the patient, to include date of birth and verify allergies.
4. Prepare medication, adhering to the five rights of drug administration.
Right – drug, dose, time, route, patient
Check the expiration date of the medication
5. Provide Patient Education:
reason(s) for the medication(s) administration/ desired effect
expected/common side effects
potential adverse reactions
6. Assemble inhalation device and spacer as shown.
7. Assess patient’s ability to hold and manipulate the inhalation device.
8. Explain steps used to administer an inhaled dose of medication (demonstrate steps
when possible). Simple, step-by-step explanations allow patient to ask questions at
any point during procedure.
NOTE: Staff cannot demonstrate actual depression of an active canister without self-
administering a dose. If possible contact pharmacy for a placebo inhaler for
13. Patient Instructions: (after placing inhaler in spacer)
Remove cap from inhaler.
Hold inhaler upright grasping it with thumb and
first two fingers.
Shake inhaler well for 2 to 5 seconds.
Place the mouthpiece of spacer into mouth.
Sit up straight, or stand up, and lift the chin to
open the airways.
Exhale deeply through nose.
Depress the inhalation device so that the
medication is dispersed.
Inhale deeply through mouth.
Hold his or her breath for several seconds.
Slowly exhale through pursed lips.
Repeat – if necessary in 2 to 5 minutes.
If administering 2 inhalers, inhale bronchodilators first, then administer the
steroids after a few minutes.
NOTE: A patient using steroids should ‘rinse & spit’ afterwards to prevent
14. After the demonstration, re-assess the patient’s ability to administer the inhaled
15. Allow patient to self-administer medication
16. Documentation (Progress Notes in HealthLink utilizing SmartPhrase: .medinclinic)
Manufacture, Lot #, Expiration date (as indicated)
VIS# (if applicable)
Name, dosage, route of medication, and time given
Assessment and laboratory results relevant to purpose of the medication
Effects of the medication on patient
Teaching about the drug or administration technique
How patient tolerated procedure, i.e., desired effect, adverse reactions
REVISED BY: Carol Decker, RN, MSN, Clinical Staff Educator
REVIEWED BY: LaVay Morrison, RN, BSN, Clinical Staff Educator
WRITTEN BY: Ronnie Peterson, R.N., M.S., Manager of Clinical Support
Kowalak, J. P. (Ed.). (2009). Lippincott’s nursing procedures (5th ed.). Ambler, PA:
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Perry, A.G. & Potter, P.A. (2002). Clinical nursing skills & techniques. (5th ed.). St.
Louis, MO: Mosby.
Perry, A.G. & Potter, P.A. (2009). Fundamentals of nursing. (7th ed.). Hall, A. &
Stockert, P.A. (Eds.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.
Medical Director Date