Log in Register

How RxNorm handles injectable medications

  • Wednesday, 05 October 2016 10:05
  • Written by 

 Do you need to use RxNorm to exchange medication data with other systems?

There may be differences between RxNorm and your system in how injectable data is represented. 

As an example, your institution may give patients morphine via two different methods: intravenous and intramuscular.  However, RxNorm does not differentiate between ‘intravenous’ and ‘intramuscular.’ Rather it uses a constrained list of injectable clinical drugs:

  • Morphine auto-injector
  • Morphine cartridge
  • Morphine injectable solution
  • Morphine injection
  • Morphine prefilled syringe
  • Morphine liposomal injection

Keep in mind that, in general, RxNorm may not specify the route of administration.  Below, the table on the left shows commonly used injectable routes from clinical systems.  The possible RxNorm choices are on the right. 

Injectable Routes RxNorm Choices
Epidural Auto-injector
Intraabdominal Cartridge
Intraamniotic Drug implant
Intraarterial Injectable foam
Intraarticular Injectable solution
Intracardiac Injectable suspension
Intracavernous Injection 
Intradermal Intraperitoneal solution
Intramuscular Jet injector
Intraosseous Pen injector
Intraperitoneal Prefilled syringe


As shown, RxNorm represents medication data differently than local formularies.  This is because RxNorm aggregates and normalizes drug concepts from various pharmacy terminologies with the goal of supporting semantic interoperability between them.  The process of normalizing pharmacy data to RxNorm’s underlying terminology model can lead to a loss of granularity.

It is important to select the RxNorm concept that will represent your data as accurately as possible.  If you would like to have experienced clinicians, with a deep understanding of RxNorm and its methods, help you work with pharmacy terminologies, please contact us.