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You can easily traumatize delicate tissue while doing a manual disimpaction.
And, frankly, if a patient gets *that* impacted while in the hospital, somebody isn't doing their job. Probably more than you wanted to know, but at least a bit helpful for the new nurse or student.
Apparently it contains some chemical that causes the bowel to move.
The downside is that it won't work with most folks.
The molasses draws water into the bowel while the milk greases the works, as it were. We keep a gallon jug of molasses in the clean utility room and go through it in about three weeks.
This, along with the half prune juice, half mag citrate cocktail, should be in every nurse's arsenal.
Both will send your patient into low-earth orbit if they're not terribly backed up, and will cause hemorrhoids if they are.
I use the pills as a last resort and the suppositories as a next-to-last resort.
I've never had a lot of success with prune juice, even warmed, unless it's with people who've been using it for years as a laxative.
In most hospitals in the US, poop is the nurses' purview. In short, we deal with a lot of constipated patients a lot of the time.
It's an ugly fact of life, but it's true: if you have a patient who's undergone brain/cardiac/leg/facial surgery (anything, practically, short of surgery for an intestinal obstruction or ileus), it is your responsibility as a nurse to make sure that they're regularly moving their bowels. Sometimes the lower intestine itself gets lazy, and then you have the dual problem of dry Stuff and Lazy Bowel.
Even a mineral oil enema to loosen things up and grease them along is preferable to the trauma of disimpaction. Enjoy your day, eat your salad, and for heaven's sake, don't let your patient go more than 36 hours without a tour of the porcelain empire.
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They're over-the-counter medications that draw water into the bowel in small amounts, allowing Stuff to remain soft, pliable, and evacuate-able in the normal person.