The following is a summary of precautions you must remember in order to provide medications safely: 

  • In a nursing facility or assisted living facility, it is strongly recommended and in most facilities required that a physician’s order accompany every medication. In other settings, the client or family member may direct you to assist with a non-legend drug for which there is no order.
  • Legend drugs must always have a prescription. Non-legend drugs are medications that do not need a prescription. 
  • It is recommended that a medication aide in a facility should not accept a verbal or telephone order for medication from a physician. Ask the physician to call the pharmacy or nurse, or to fax the order to the facility or pharmacy. 
  • Do not give drugs set up by someone else unless the person providing direction and monitoring sets them up for you and directs you to give them. 
  • Do not give a medication if the label is unreadable. 
  • Do not combine bottles of old and new medications. 
  • Do not touch medications with bare hands. 
  • Do not give drugs that have passed their expiration date. 
  • Do not leave medications with a resident or visitor to be taken later. 
  • Do not give a drug if the resident is allergic to it. 
  • Do not give a drug if not positive of the resident’s identification. 
  • Do not give a drug if the resident says it does not look like the one he or she usually takes. 
  • Do not crush or chew sustained release, enteric coated, buccal or sublingual medications. 
  • Do not document a resident took a drug unless you actually saw it taken. 
  • Always lock the medication room or cart when leaving the area. 
  • Report errors and complete the appropriate form according to the employer’s policy. 
  • Report and record any possible reactions to drugs.
  • Report and record according to the employer’s policy any refused medications or drugs not given. 
  • Watch for changes in drugs such as color or consistency. 
  • Pour liquids at eye level to the level of the meniscus. Also place the hand over the label while pouring to protect the label. 
  • Perform hand hygiene as needed between residents. 
  • Count controlled drugs per facility policy with two appropriate people. 
  • Report missing controlled drugs to the supervisor immediately.
  • Place no smoking signs and prevent oxygen from coming into contact with flames or sparks when administering or storing oxygen.  Oxygen can be dangerous if not handled correctly. It does not cause fire or explosions but does support fire. A large flame can easily result from oxygen coming in contact with a spark. The resident’s living area should be posted with no smoking signs and all electrical equipment checked for safety.
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