Drugs in liquid form can also be delivered directly into the body through a needle or cannula that is placed into a vein.. The procedure of inserting a needle into a vein requires skill and this can be difficult for people who have not had medical or nursing training.
The speed of action of any drug administered in this way is much greater than for those administered orally. This rapid effect can cause difficulty. For example, if a person decides to inject the drug themselves they may loose consciousness before the required dose has been delivered.
To ensure that the full lethal dose is administered intravenously, a bag of saline can be used. The saline bag is attached to a cannula through a standard intravenous ‘giving set’. The drugs can be added to the saline where they will continue to flow, even if consciousness is lost. Alternatively a pre- loaded syringe driver can be used - see ‘Administration of Nembutal’. Note: When unconscious, there is the risk that intravenous access will be lost if the cannula is mechanically dislodged.
Intravenous drug administration
One advantage of intravenous administration is that it extends the range of drugs that can be used to end life.