Inserting a Rectal Suppository (Video)

A rectal suppository is a small cone-shaped semisolid substance that is inserted into the rectum. A physician’s order provides for a rectal suppository to be given to assist a person to evacuate the bowel. Nursing assistants may or may not be allowed to insert non-medicated suppositories, depending on each state’s scope of practice for nursing assistants. Know and follow the scope of practice for your state, and follow your facility’s policy regarding suppositories.


Before inserting a suppository, be sure to perform hand hygiene. Assemble the supplies that you will need, including the suppository the physician has ordered, a lubricant, a bedpan with a cover, disposable gloves, toilet tissue, and a protective pad.

Knock and identify yourself when entering the patient’s room. Once inside, identify the individual and explain the procedure, speaking clearly, slowly and directly while maintaining face-to-face contact whenever possible.

Before you begin, provide privacy. Raise the bed to a comfortable working height. Then lower the head of the bed.

The Procedure

Assist the resident to turn to his left side. This allows the suppository to be inserted more directly into the internal pathway of the rectum.

Pull back the covers and pull aside any articles of clothing to uncover the buttocks. Put on the disposable gloves. Open the lubricant and apply it to your index finger and to the suppository.

Explain to the individual that it will help relax his anal sphincter muscles and ease the insertion if he takes several quick, short breaths as you are inserting the suppository.

Use a small amount of lubricant on your index finger to lubricate the anus. Hold the suppository between your thumb and index finger of your dominant hand and spread the buttocks with the other.

Insert the suppository slowly and gently with a rotating motion. Insert it approximately two to three inches into the rectum. Withdraw your finger and hold some toilet tissue briefly against the anus. Remove the gloves by turning them inside out, and discard them along with the tissue and suppository wrapper.

Reposition the resident and ask him to retain the suppository as long as possible -- usually 15 to 20 minutes. Encourage him to take deep breaths and relax until the need to defecate is experienced. Monitor him every few minutes until he has a bowel movement. Make sure that the call bell is in place. Perform hand hygiene if you are going to leave the room to attend other duties.

When he is ready for a bowel movement, provide a bedpan or assist him to the bathroom, or bedside commode. When he is finished with the bowel movement, collect the bedpan and provide whatever assistance is necessary.

Completing Care:

Then help him wash his hands. Reposition him if necessary and make sure he is comfortable. Be sure the call signal is within reach and the bed is in the lowest position.

Observe the contents of the bedpan before emptying it. After performing hand hygiene, record the time and type of suppository you gave, and record the results.

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