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Pneumatic Tube Systems in the Hospital Setting

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

If you complete a rotation in a hospital or later on begin working in a hospital setting, chances are that you will see and use what is often called a “tubing system”. The more proper name for these systems is pneumatic tubing systems.

These systems propel cylindrical containers through networks of tubes by compressed air or by partial vacuum. They have been used around the world for hundreds of years but are now most often seen and used in manufacturing, hospitals, and banks - like the ones you see at the drive through service!

In the hospital setting, pneumatic tubing systems are used to send blood samples and medications to the correct departments, and this requires spending less time walking through the hospital. The items are delivered quickly to their destination, so this is also helpful in the event of an emergency situation.

Pharmacies use the tubing system to send medications and IV bags to nurses on the patient floors/units. However, it is important to know that some things cannot be sent through the tubing system. Below is a list of items that cannot be tubed. Always check the policy and procedure manual for the most specific guidelines and information for your location.

Items that can NOT be sent through a pneumatic tubing system include:

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A medication that should not be shaken is IV Daptomycin


Glass, controlled substances, Chemotherapy.

Comes in glass container

IV Daptomycin


Glass, flammable liquids, and controlled substances can’t be sent through a pneumatic tubing system. IV Nitroglycerin can’t be sent through a pneumatic tubing system because it is packaged in a class container. One medication the can’t be shaken would be IV Daptomycin.


Controlled substances, flammable liquids, and chemotherapy medications cannot be sent through a pneumatic tube. IV Nitroglycerin can also not be sent through a pneumatic tube because it is packaged inside a fragile glass container. A medication that should never be shaken is Insulin.


Three examples that cannot be sent through a pneumatic tube could be controlled substances, chemotherapy medications and flammable liquids. IV Nitroglycerin can't be sent through a pneumatic tube because it's packaged inside of a glass contrainer that is susceptible to damage. IV Daptomycin is a medication that should never be shaken.

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