Rectal Suppositories

Document created by tfreiberg Employee on Dec 27, 2016Last modified by mcunningham on Mar 23, 2017
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A suppository is a small piece of medicated substance usually about an inch in size and cone-shaped.


When inserted rectally, the body’s heat will cause it to melt, releasing the medicine. Suppositories are most often used to help cause a bowel movement or to give a medicine when a person is unable to take pills.


Supplies you will need

  • Ordered suppository (your nurse will tell you when and how often to use)
  • Lubricating jelly for insertion (K-Y Jelly or water-based lubricant)
  • Gloves
  • Chux (waterproof pads)
  • Bedpan, bedside commode or toilet
  • Soap, water, washcloth and towel


What to do

  1. Explain to patient what you are going to do even if you are not sure if they can hear you.
  2. Have patient lay on their left side with the right leg bent.
  3. Wash your hands and put on gloves.
  4. Open suppository wrapping and lubricate pointed end of suppository and gloved finger with K-Y or water-based lubricant.
  5. Put finger into rectum and gently remove any hard stool within reach.
  6. Next, push suppository gently into rectum as far as you can reach your finger. If patient expresses discomfort, do not push it further. The suppository may want to slide back, so it is helpful to keep your finger in place a few seconds longer. Gently remove finger. You may also press the patient’s buttocks together for a few seconds with your other hand to help keep the suppository in place.
  7. Results are not always quick. Patient should keep suppository in as long as comfortable.
  8. If necessary, wash and dry the patient’s rectal area.
  9. Throw away gloves and wash hands.



Adapted from: The Lippincott Manual of Nursing Practice, Tenth Edition, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.