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Archive February 2019 XX, No. 2

Success With Prefilled Syringes

Before you order medications from a compounding pharmacy, check out this practical advice.

Dan O

Dan O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief


Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
PRICE OF PREFILLED The cost of prefilled syringes is about equal to the cost of reduced waste, time savings and convenience.

You'll almost always pay more for premixed, prelabeled syringes prepared at a compounding pharmacy. You're paying not only for the drug, but also for the preparation time and the convenience of a syringe that is capped off and labeled and ready to administer: simply open up the package and administer the drugs immediately rather than drawing up medications and labeling syringes manually or with a syringe label printer. But don't let price dissuade you. It could be a cost-neutral proposition when you consider that:

  • You'll waste less medication. You'll waste fewer drugs when you use prefilled syringes, studies show, especially in emergency medications such as atropine and phenylephrine, as well as succinylcholine. If your anesthesiologists draw up medicines for emergent situations and don't administer them within the hour, they must discard them. At least they should.

Let's say your anesthesia providers prepare 20 syringes with lidocaine, epinephrine and sodium bicarbonate for local cases, but only use 10 within 12 hours. "Any drug that's drawn up in a syringe and not immediately administered must be labeled with the name of the drug, the concentration or amount, and the expiration date if it's not going to be administered in the next 24 hours," says Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, the president of Infection Control Consulting Services. Prefilled syringes of lidocaine, on the other hand, remain safe to use for up to 4 weeks, according to a study in Dermatologic Surgery.

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