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breaking medications

cookietoddccookietodd Posts: 36
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Pain Medications
Hi everyone, I have seen numerous posts that have talked about breaking medications or crushing meds for ease of swallowing post surgery. Not all medications can be broken or crushed. Some Have time release or extended release formulations and are not always clearly labeled. Please check with your pharmacy to see if you can do this safely before you do this. I am coming from a medical background and want to keep everyone safe.


  • Many medications come in liquid forms also, if swallowing pills is an issue, and for many it is. A few I can think of: Morphine, Oxycodone, and Hydrocodone (Lortab Elixer) are commonly prescribed. Lexapro is also available as a liquid. And most anything can be turned into a suspension by a compounding pharmacy. I especially see a lot of the morphine, I would imagine it is absorbed much more rapidly, as a pill takes much more time to be digested. Also, most pharmacies can add flavoring to liquid medications, Walgreens has thousands of recipes for this, and it is not just for children. I am not sure that they would do this for narcotics, though, as I think the bottle must be dispensed sealed, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

    There are usually adult dosing instructions on OTC medications that come in liquids, even though they are usually used for children (Benadryl, Tylenol, Advil, etc). I feel fortunate that I have no problems swallowing pills, you would be surprised how many adults ask for tips from the pharmacists because they can't swallow pills. A lot of capusules can be broken open and sprinkled over applesauce or dissolved in a beverage, as well. If this is an option, it will tell you in the leaflet given to you by the pharmacy, I seem to remember seeing this when I had gabapentin. But, always ask your doctor or pharmacist!

    When using liquids, make sure that you pay attention to dosing. A tbsp is greatly different from a tsp. Some doctors dose in ml, some in tbsp or ml. Please be careful. I remember my dad once had some cough syrup and didn't pay attention to tbsp vs tsp and took a much larger dose than he should have (it was narcotic, too). He ran out and asked for more and the doctor gave it to him. Fortunately he is a very large man and it didn't hurt him, but for a smaller person or a child this could be very, very dangerous, especially when you are talking about heavy duty narcotics like morphine. Ask the pharmacist to show you the dot or line that you should fill the spoon or syringe. The pharmacy will give you these for free. Mark the spot with a marker. If you are post surgery or waking up in the middle of the night groggy, it would be very easy to fill it to the wrong place.
  • Thanks Rosetta, for the added info. I had this happen to me my nurse first day of surg. Broke my BP and Heart med that was extended release and I had increased effects so this is not limited to just pain meds.

    Just check with your Pharmacist, Pharm.D, or Doctor for this info ;)
    Everyone have a positive day... :)
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