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Subcutaneous Infusion Education Home


Use of subcutaneous infusions is standard practice in palliative care and improves patient comfort by administration of medication at a constant rate to assist in control of various symptoms.

Limitations and risks in use of subcutaneous infusion devices include inflexibility of prescription, technical problems and skin reactions at the cannula insertion site. Subcutaneous infusion devices should be managed in accordance with local policies and procedures, by knowledgable, appropriately trained staff to minimise risks presented by limitations of individual devices and their use.

This resource promotes a standardised approach to clinical care for individuals requiring subcutaneous infusion of medication. It includes learning activities to develop knowledge and skills for beginning level practice in this field. It is also appropriate for more experienced practitioners who may wish to update their skills.

To achieve minimum competency in use of specific subcutaneous infusion devices, you should complete all activities in this learning resource. You should also note:

  • Successful completion of the activities in this resource should be accompanied by practical demonstrations and supervised practice with an appropriately experienced clinician
  • Operation of a subcutaneous infusion device should only be undertaken by, or under supervision of, appropriately trained staff, in accordance with local policies and procedures and manufacturers' guidelines
  • Setting up and managing an infusion device is a skill that may lapse if not practised regularly; maintaining competency can be difficult for practitioners who have variable exposure to the device and its use
  • Health professionals are at all times accountable and responsible for their own actions and should be aware of the limits of their knowledge, skills and competence, and act within those limits.

Learning Aim

The aim of this learning package is to assist the clinician to develop knowledge and skills of the basic principles of care for people with subcutaneous infusion devices in palliative care settings. This package is designed to provide self-directed learning; completion does not provide formal accreditation. Supervised practice with appropriately trained staff managing the device used by your service is recommended



The information contained in this package has been compiled by the Centre for Palliative Care Research and Education (CPCRE) and Palliative Care Australia (PCA) for educational and information purposes only. It is intended to assist healthcare professionals in developing their knowledge of key principles concerning the use of subcutaneous infusion devices in palliative care. While CPCRE and PCA have taken particular care in compiling this package, errors may occur. Therefore, CPCRE and PCA give no warranty as to its accuracy or completeness. The package is not intended to replace or constitute medical advice and should not be construed as specific instructions for the delivery of medical treatment or care or the use of any particular device for providing a subcutaneous infusion. It is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and should not be relied upon to solve issues that may arise in individual cases. CPCRE and PCA do not accept liability for any direct, incidental or consequential loss or damage arising from the use of or reliance upon the information contained in this package. Healthcare professionals should also seek training, supervision and advice from appropriately qualified and experienced clinicians in order to develop the required level of clinical competence to properly treat patients, where appropriate, using subcutaneous infusion devices.

This education package on Management of Subcutaneous Infusions in Palliative Care was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

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Last updated: 15 July 2021