It is also important for nurses to understand and apply knowledge or pharmacology in nursing practice. Nurses are frequently responsible for instructing the client and family regarding the safe administration of medications. National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) devoted 13% - 19 % of the physiological integrity section to pharmacology.
There are three major areas of pharmacology as followed here:
- Pharmacokinetics: How drugs are absorbed, distributed, metabolized and excreted by the body.
- Pharmacodynamics: How drugs are used by the body.
- Pharmacotherapeutics: How the client response to the drugs.
Nurses are expected to use their knowledge of pharmacology to:
- Recognize common uses, side effects, and adverse effects.
- Challenge medication errors
- Meet the client's learning need.
- Anti-infectives: for the treatment of infections have common side effects - GI upset
- Antihypertensive: to lower blood pressure and increase blood flow to the myocardium, have common side effects such as orthostatic hypotention,
- Antidiarrheals: to decrease gastric motility and reduce water content in the intestinal tract, have side effects include bloating and gas.
- Diuretics: to decrease water and sodium absorption from the loof of Henle or inhibit antidiuretic hormone (potassium-sparing diuretics). Side effects include hypokalemia.
- Antacids: to reduce hydrochloric acid in the stomach. The calcium and aluminum based antacids have side effect of constipation whereas the magnesium based antacids have side effects of diarrhea.
- Antipyretics: to reduce fever
- Bronchodilators: to dilate large air passages (for asthma patient), have common side effect of tachycardia.
- Laxatives: to promote the passage of stool (such as stool softeners, cathartics, fiber, lubricants and stimulants).
- Anticoagulants: to prevent clot formation by decreasing vitamin K levels and blocking the clotting chain or by preventing platelet aggregation.
- Antianemics: to increase factors necessary for red blood cell production such as B12, iron, and Epogen.
- Narcotics / analgesics: to relieve moderate to severe pain, include opioids (morphine and codeine), synthetic opioids (meperidine), and NSAIDs (ketoralac).
- Anticonvulsants: to treat seizure disorder and bipolar disorder, such as phenobarbital, phenytoin and lorazepam.
- Anticholinergics: to dry mucous membranes such as atropine.
- Mydriatics: to dilate the pupils, such as for cataract patients.
- Miotics: to constric the pupil, such as pilocarpin HCl for treatment of glaucoma.
Here are abbreviations of time-released drugs:
- Dur = Duration
- SR = Sustained release
- CR = Continuous release
- SA = Sustained action
- Contin = Continuous action
- LA = Long acting