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ISMP Medication Safety Alert

Suppository stories

A mother brought her child to the emergency room to get a suppository removed. Now, ordinarily, suppositories are inserted into the rectum, and they dissolve there. This is a convenient way to give medications to people who are feeling too sick to take anything by mouth. The problem in this situation was that the mother did not know that the foil wrapper on the suppository had to be removed before inserting it.

This is not the first time we've heard of this, but we wish it were the last. We have also heard of patients who mistakenly ate suppositories, peeling away the wrapper like a banana. Be aware that suppositories are for rectal use only and that the wrappers must be removed first. Even though suppositories are not meant to be eaten, it usually isn't harmful if someone does, but the medication will probably not work as well.

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