The Medication practice standard outlines nurses' accountabilities and responsibilities when performing activities involving medication. The practice standard is principle-based, which means that it uses general statements. Nurses need to use critical thinking and knowledge, skill and judgment when making decisions about medication activities.
Yes. You are dispensing when you package and give medication to a client (or their delegate) for later use. If a pharmacist has already dispensed your client's medications to your unit or workplace, you’re responsible for taking steps to ensure proper use. This includes:
Medication Practice Standard provides clear direction for labelling, packaging, client education, and documentation.
Preparing medications is part of the medication administration process. Preparation includes selecting, calculating, crushing, breaking, mixing, labelling, drawing up, popping out, etc. Prepare medications as close as possible to the time you administer them.
Pre-pouring medications is not safe medication practice. Pre-pouring medications is preparing medications in well in advance of administration and storing them until you administer them. Pre-pouring medications blurs the accountability for ensuring the medication rights are met and it increases the risk of errors and risk to the client.
Examples of pre-pouring include:
Follow your workplace policies when preparing medications.
There are limited situations where you may share the responsibility for preparing and administering medications. Examples include:
You’ll find more information and guidance in the
Medication Practice Standard.
Yes, nurses can dispense medications, including narcotics, to clients under their care with a client-specific order from an authorized health professional. Nurses must meet the requirements set out in the
Medication Practice Standard and follow workplace policy.
It is not always possible or practical to watch your clients take the medications you administer; however, one of your responsibilities when administering medications is to verify that medications you administer are taken. Verification can take the form of watching the client take the medication or asking the client (or delegate) if they have taken the medication. Verification is an important step in the process.
Medications assumed to have been taken but not, or those left with the client to be taken, can create potential safety issues. For example, your client may tell you that they have taken the medication when in fact they are saving several doses to take at one time.
Each client and practice setting is unique so you will need to use your nursing judgment to decide the best way to verify medication administration. Some medications may be subject to workplace policies where you must observe the client taking it (i.e., methadone).
Yes, they can. Pharmacists are authorized through the
Health Professions Act and their regulatory college's
Professional Practice Policy-58 (PPP-58) Medication Management (Adapting a Prescription):
(Note, policy (PPP-58)
does not apply to controlled drug substances and cancer chemotherapy agents.)
For example, a pharmacist is authorized to substitute a generically equivalent drug or interchange drugs to the closest manufactured dose—if the medication order is for a 300 mg tablet but the standard dose available is 325 mg, the pharmacist may dispense a 325mg tablet.
Pharmacists are not authorized to interchange or substitute medications if the prescriber indicates that no substitutions are allowed or that a specific drug manufacturer's product be dispensed.
That’s not correct. Before administering any medication, nurses are knowledgeable about the effects, side effects and interactions and take action as necessary. Refer to the
Medication Practice Standard.
Workplace policies may place restrictions on medication administration over and above that of the nursing Regulations and BCCNM standards, limits and conditions. Organizations are responsible for providing the supports and systems necessary for safe medication administration by nurses, including medication reconciliation and reporting of medication incidents and near misses.