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Clinical tip - Safe administration of medication

Posted on 28/09/2016 by David Rennie

As a nurse, if you're ever in doubt about administering medication we would recommend that you follow the ‘Standards for medicine management’ issued by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. 

As a minimum standard when administering medication we would advise:

  • you must be certain of the identity of the patient to whom the medicine is to be administered 
  • you must check that the patient is not allergic to the medicine before administering it 
  • you must know the therapeutic uses of the medicine to be administered, its normal dosage, side effects, precautions and contra-indications 
  • you must be aware of the patient’s plan of care (care plan or pathway)
  • you must check that the prescription or the label on medicine dispensed is clearly written and unambiguous 
  • you must check the expiry date (where it exists) of the medicine to be administered 
  • you must have considered the dosage, weight where appropriate, method of administration, route and timing 
  • you must administer or withhold in the context of the patient’s condition, (for example, Digoxin not usually to be given if pulse below 60) and co-existing therapies, for example, physiotherapy.


 In addition:

  • Where medication is not given, the reason for not doing so must be recorded.


In summary:

  • Always follow the NMC clinical guidelines for administering prescribed medication.
  • Always ensure that your writing in the patient recording chart is clear, legible, accurate, and reflects the medication administered to the individual.
  • Always assess medication stock levels and arrange re-ordering of medication as required.
  • Document any concerns you may have regarding medication management in the patient care plan. Communicate this to the relevant person in charge.


For further reading you can find the complete NMC ‘Standards for medicine management’ here 

​If you would like your own copy of the clinical tips above, simply click the button below for a downloadable version

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