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01.09 The SOCK Method – S

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  1. S – Side Effects
    1. SOCK Method
    2. Intended effects
    3. Side effects

Nursing Points


  1. SOCK Method
    1. S – Side Effects
    2. Provides one step of the overall framework for the method
  2. Intended effects
    1. Drugs have purposeful intended effects
    2. Know what systems or responses are intended
    3. Many drugs have many side effects
      1. Only study what is key or relative
  3. Side effects
    1. Focus on life threatening side effects
    2. Consider what organs and organ systems are involved
    3. Consider the side effects that are opposite of intended side effect
    4. Don’t need to know ALL side effects, just key ones
    5. Focus on medications that affect the ABCs
      1. Airway
      2. Breathing
      3. Circulation


Haws, J., RN. (2017, November 16) . The S.O.C.K. Method for Mastering Nursing Pharmacology (our 4 step method). Retrieved from

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Video Transcript

All right. In this lecture we’re going to focus on the S portion of the SOCK method, or side effects. The S stands for side effects and it’s one of the … Of all these steps in the framework, it’s one of the most critical steps because we’re really focusing on how is this going to affect our patient, how it’s going to impact the patient’s outcome.
When we focus on learning side effects, we want to focus on the intended effects of the medication. The drug that we’re giving has an intended effect. What systems are going to be impacted? And realize that there’s going to be multiple side effects with any medication that we give. For example, if we’re giving Tylenol there might be 4,000 different side effects. Is completely impossible to learn and understand all 4,000 side effects of Tylenol, so we need to really understand and study those side effects that matter.
Well, when I say those side effects that matter, we need to understand those side effects that truly impact our patient. Now, this portion of the SOCK method helps us identify those side effects that we must know, so that we can take better care of our patient. We can monitor our patient much better.
When we’re understanding side effects, we first want to focus on life threatening side effects. If you’re giving a medication and one of the side effects is nausea, vomiting, but another side effect is cardiac arrest, which side effect do I need to learn and which side effect do I need to understand? I need to understand those side effects that are going to have life threatening impacts on my patient. Then I want to focus on key organs and key organ systems. We always take about the big three at [inaudible 00:01:44]. We talk about cardiac, respiratory and neuro. We want to focus on how this medication is going to affect major organ systems, those three major organ systems. Without those three functioning, my patient is dead so I need to really understand. First of all, life threatening, second of all, the three major organ systems.
Then I want you guys to focus on and understand those side effects that are opposite of the intended effect. If I’m giving a blood pressure medication and it causes vasodilation, what are the opposite outcomes that might occur from me trying to lower a patient’s blood pressure? That is how you can start to identify what side effects really matter.
Then I want you to focus on the ABCs, airway, breathing and circulation. If I’m giving a medication that has a side effect that will impact breathing, for example, morphine. If it’s lowering my respiratory rate, I care about that. If I’m giving a CNS depressant, I care about what it does to airway breathing and circulation. I must care about, and then I must monitor that and it has to play a role in my nursing judgment with giving that medication.
So we talked about side effects. I want you to understand that the S stands for side effect. We must understand there’s an intended use for the drug that I’m giving. What is that intended use? Then I want you to focus on your life threatening side effects. Remember your ABCs and then focus on your organ systems, especially your major three, your cardiac, respiratory, neuro. How does this medication affect those organ systems? And then focus on side effects that have the opposite effect of that I’m trying to do.
You guys, I want you to focus all you do on your side effects on learning side effects in this way, intended use, life threatening organs and systems, and then opposite effect. This is going to help you understand what of all the three million side effects that you must understand and you must know, what do you really, really need to know, because you cannot learn it all.
All right, guys. I want you to go out and be your best selves today. Happy nursing.