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Authors

  1. Pullen, Richard L. Jr., RN, EdD

Article Content

ORALLY DISINTEGRATING TABLETS (ODTs) dissolve or disintegrate in the mouth without water within 60 seconds when placed on the patient's tongue. They're ideal for patients such as children or older adults who have difficulty swallowing traditional oral tablets or capsules and those with mental illness. Because it's administered without a liquid, an ODT can be used anywhere and anytime to treat acute conditions, such as an allergy attack or a migraine. Absorption through mucosa is rapid, so ODTs have a faster onset of action than drugs that are swallowed.

 

DO

 

* Perform hand hygiene and put on gloves.

 

* Assess the patient's mucous membranes, which should be moist to promote absorption. Also check for redness or lesions, which can inhibit absorption.

 

* Make sure that the patient doesn't consume any food or fluid for 5 minutes before or after taking the ODT.

 

* Tell the patient not to chew the tablet, that it will dissolve rapidly, and that she won't need a drink when she takes the medication. Warn her that it may be slightly bitter.

 

* Ask the patient to hold the ODT on her tongue while it dissolves instead of swallowing it. Observe her until the ODT has dissolved (about 1 minute).

 

* Assess for a therapeutic response and any adverse reactions. Document your findings.

 

* Tell the patient or her parents to keep ODTs handy at all times if they're for acute symptoms. Teach them to open the pack with dry hands and not to split tablets. If they remove an ODT from the pack but it isn't taken immediately, it should be discarded. Remind patients to keep all medications out of the reach of children, who may think it's candy.

 

0DON'T

 

* Don't push the ODT out of the pack through the foil.

 

* Don't break or split the ODT.

 

* Don't open the foil packaging or remove the ODT until just before you administer it.

 

RESOURCES

 

Kee JL, et al. Pharmacology: A Nursing Process Approach, 5th edition. W B. Saunders, 2006.

 

Reeves RR, Torres RA. Orally disintegrating olanzapine for the treatment of psychotic and behavioral disturbances associated with dementia. Southern Medical Journal. 96(7):699-701, July 2003.

 

Uko-Ekpenyong G. Improving medication adherence with orally disintegrating tablets. Nursing2006. 36(9):20-21, September 2006.