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How is patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) administered?

Learn how patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) is administered.

A patient with an IV hookup. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
A patient with an IV hookup.

Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) is a drug delivery system that dispenses a preset intravenous (IV) dose of a narcotic analgesic for reduction to pain when the patient pushes a switch on an electric cord. The device consists of a computerized pump with a chamber containing a syringe holding up to 60 milliliters of a drug.

The patient administers a dose of narcotic when the need for pain relief arises. A lockout interval device automatically inactivates the system if the patient tries to increase the amount of narcotic within a preset time period.

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