Patients with difficult venous access or oral intolerance and clinical situations with inadequate response to oral therapy have generated the need for alternative routes of delivery for drugs and fluids.
The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review examining the evidence for subcutaneous (SC) administration of drugs and/or fluids.
We used a broad search strategy using electronic databases CINAHL, EMBASE, PubMed and Cochrane library, key terms and ‘Medical Subject Headings’ (MeSH) such as ‘subcutaneous route’, ‘hypodermoclysis’ and the name/group of the most used drugs via this route (e.g. ‘ketorolac, morphine, ceftriaxone’, ‘analgesics, opioids, antibiotics’).
We conclude that the SC route is an effective alternative for rehydration in patients with mild–moderate dehydration and offers a number of potential advantages in appropriately selected scenarios. Experience of administering drugs by this route suggests that it is well tolerated and is associated with minimal side-effects.