Nursing Student
New Grad

06.04 Drawing Up Meds

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  1. Purpose
    1. Medications stored in vials need to be drawn up in syringes to facilitate administration
  2. Notes
    1. Follow facility protocol regarding the use and storage of multi-use vials
    2. Vials are pressure-sealed (vacuum).  In order to remove any volume of liquid, you must first replace it with air.

Nursing Points


  1. Supplies
    1. Appropriate size syringe (calculate required volume of dose)
    2. Blunt tip needle
    3. Alcohol pad

Nursing Concepts

  1. Steps and Nursing Considerations
    1. Verify provider order
    2. ALWAYS follow 5 rights BEFORE preparing medication
      1. Right Patient
      2. Right Drug
      3. Right Dose
      4. Right Route
      5. Right Time
    3. ALWAYS prepare medications at the patient’s bedside
    4. Gather supplies
    5. Perform hand hygiene
    6. Don clean gloves
    7. Let the patient know what meds they will be receiving
    8. Calculate the required volume of medication needed
    9. Choose appropriate size syringe
    10. Attach blunt tip needle to syringe
      1. Not applicable for insulin needles or other built-in needle/syringe combos
    11. Remove the lid from the vial, clean the top with an alcohol pad
    12. Draw up air in your syringe equal to the volume of medication required
    13. With the vial on the table or countertop, insert the needle/syringe through the rubber stopper
    14. Inject the air into the vial
    15. Invert the vial and slowly draw up the med to the prescribed volume
      1. Drawing up too quickly can cause air bubbles
    16. Remove the syringe/needle from the vial
    17. Flick/tap the syringe to remove any air bubbles
    18. Safely recap and/or remove the blunt tip needle and discard in sharps container
    19. If not administering right away, LABEL the medication syringe:
      1. Drug name
      2. Dose / Volume
      3. Date / Time / Initials
      4. **Do not draw up more than one medication at a time without labelling the syringe(s)
      5. **Can use a piece of tape or a patient label/sticker
    20. Follow the appropriate steps for administration based on the prescribed route (IV, IM, SubQ, etc.)

Patient Education

  1. Educate about administration of medication.
Study Tools

Video Transcript

In this video we’re going to look at the proper technique for drawing up medications out of a vial.
Of course your very first step is to calculate the required volume of medication needed. In this case, let’s say you need 2 mL of the medication.
Now you will pick your syringe, in this case a 3 mL syringe is perfect. Then you’ll attach a blunt tip needle to the syringe.
Remove the lid from the vial, and clean the top with an alcohol pad
Now, since these vials are vacuum sealed, you have to replace the volume you want to remove with air first. So draw up air in your syringe equal to the volume of medication required.
Then, insert the needle/syringe through the rubber stopper and inject the air into the vial.
Now you can invert the vial and slowly draw up the med to the prescribed volume. Carefully not to draw it up too quickly or you’ll get air bubbles.
Take the needle out of the vial and flick or tap the syringe as needed to remove any air bubbles. Sometimes I’ll use a pen to help save my fingers!
Now, to proceed with administration, you have to remove the blunt tip needle. You can do that by carefully twisting it off from the base OR by safely recapping it with the scoop technique. Then throw it in the sharps container

Now that you have your med drawn up, you can immediately move to administering it based on whatever the route is. IF you aren’t going to administer it right away, you MUST label the syringe with the drug, dose, and date/time/initials.

Check out the specific route administration videos for details on how to give IV push, IM, or SubQ injections. Now, go out and be your best selves today. And, as always, happy nursing!