sniffing alcohol swab for nausea?

  1. I know this sounds very weird, but here goes. Nurses in several area hospitals are helping patients to sniff the fumes from alcohol swabs as a nursing intervention to treat nausea. Clearly this is not appropriate and could be dangerous according to the MDS. How would you go about addressing this situation? Obviously it needs to be brought up with the charge nurse and hospital director of education. Students need to be apprised as well. Beyond that what would be an appropriate response as an educator?
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   loisane
    I know this post is a little old, but I had to comment. I am a CRNA, and am more familiar with that allnurses forum, but I was just browsing through this area today.

    The use of sniffing an alcohol pad has been researched, and the results published. It was found to be as effective for PONV (post op n/v) as a dose of anti-emetic drug.

    Sorry I don't have the reference. It was probably in the AANA journal. This is a low cost, low risk alternative to medication. It is catching on, since there is at least some evidence based practice behind it. Probably needs replicated with larger studies, but I am sure we will see more of this.

    loisane crna
  4. by   nurseangel47
    It'd take an awful lot of the packs of alcohol to create a danger from the fumes! Think about it....
  5. by   vickynurse
    loisane, thanks so much for your reply. I'll pass it on.
  6. by   AirforceRN
    I saw this last month in the emerg and was totally confused. Apparently it worked though and the patient didn't vomit. Strange....
    I asked one of the older RNs about it and heard an hour long story about how they used to hang glass bottles of ETOH to help patients with the DTs. Again, strange, but true.
  7. by   neneRN
    There was a thread about this a few years back, so its not a new thing...
    maybe I can find it...
  8. by   neneRN
    http://allnurses.com/forums/f39/alco...sea-58389.html

    One of the posters put in in good article about why it works
  9. by   BBFRN
    Quote from loisane
    I know this post is a little old, but I had to comment. I am a CRNA, and am more familiar with that allnurses forum, but I was just browsing through this area today.

    The use of sniffing an alcohol pad has been researched, and the results published. It was found to be as effective for PONV (post op n/v) as a dose of anti-emetic drug.

    Sorry I don't have the reference. It was probably in the AANA journal. This is a low cost, low risk alternative to medication. It is catching on, since there is at least some evidence based practice behind it. Probably needs replicated with larger studies, but I am sure we will see more of this.

    loisane crna
    It's true: The study is entitled, "Isopropyl Alcohol Inhalation: Alternative Treatment of Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting," by B. Merritt et al, and was published in Nursing Research.

    I have used this method for years as a quick fix until I could get the anti-emetics to the patient. It does work- I have only had one patient vomit after using it. I did this last week after transferring a patient to TCU from my unit. When the receiving nurse looked at me in confusion, I realized that this wasn't as well-known a practice as I had thought.
  10. by   LilDKessler
    I use it on a almost daily basis for post-op n/v. It works remarkedly well! I didn't know of it until I got to this unit & was told by a more seasoned nurse that learned of it herself in Iceland during a rotation with the Navy.
  11. by   mommy2boysaz
    Just had to put in my 2 cents!
    When I had some nausea during my C-section a couple of years ago, my anesthesiologist waved an alcohol prep in front of my nose and the nausea was gone...
    :spin:
  12. by   Kim O'Therapy
    Quote from mommy2boysaz
    Just had to put in my 2 cents!
    When I had some nausea during my C-section a couple of years ago, my anesthesiologist waved an alcohol prep in front of my nose and the nausea was gone...
    :spin:
    I agree. After my abdominal hysterectomy, I started dry-heaving. Although I was only half awake, I could smell the alcohol and the nausea would stop. Later, I asked about it because I'd never heard of it before.
  13. by   SteveNNP
    We actually uses the published PONV article in our BSN program's Nursing Research and Statistics class.....I've tried it, and it works.... have no idea why.
  14. by   southernatheart
    You know, I read a study in a nursing journal a couple months back about the practice of hanging ETOH on chronic alcoholics who needed immediate surgery to prevent detox.

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