The Dispensing Medications practice standard outlines the expectations for RPNs when they dispense, and clarifies:
- When dispensing occurs.
- That RPNs may dispense with or without a pharmacist’s involvement.
- That RPNs have additional responsibilities when a pharmacist is not involved.
- The steps RPNs take to ensure the pharmaceutical and therapeutic suitability of a medication for its intended use.
The Dispensing Medications Decision Tree is a tool to help guide RPNs when dispensing medications and is used in conjunction with the Dispensing Medications practice standard.
Are you dispensing?
+ Case scenario: Sandy‘s client, Mr. Habib, is going out on a weekend pass with his family and he needs to take his medication with him. Sandy prepares the medication from his medication blister pack and gives it to Mr. Habib’s sister. Is this dispensing?
Yes. You are dispensing when you repackage and give medication to a client (or their delegate) for later use. In this situation, because a pharmacist has already dispensed the medication, Sandy is responsible for taking steps to make sure Mr. Habib uses the medication properly. This includes:
- Packaging and labelling the medication appropriately.
- Providing the client (or their delegate) with the information needed to take the medication properly.
- Documenting that you have dispensed the medication.
+ Case scenario: Simon’s client, Mr. Lemay, was treated for anxiety in the emergency department and discharged with a prescription for anti-anxiety medication. Simon provides him with enough medication to manage until the local pharmacy opens. Is this dispensing?
Yes. Simon is providing Mr. Lemay with medication for later use. Because a pharmacist is not involved in the dispensing process, Simon needs to take steps to make sure the medication is pharmaceutically and therapeutically appropriate for Mr. Lemay. This includes:
- Reviewing the client-specific order for completeness and appropriateness.
- Reviewing the client’s medication history and other health information.
- Considering any potential drug interactions, therapeutic duplications, contraindications, allergies and other considerations.
- Using evidence-based resources to support his decision making.
- Considering the client’s ability to take the medication as ordered.
In addition, Simon needs to take steps to make sure Mr. Lemay uses the medication properly and documents that he has dispensed the medication.
What else can you do?
Review the Dispensing Medications practice standard, and
- Think about how you will meet this standard in your practice.
- Discuss the standard with your colleagues.
- Review your agency policy.
- Share your ideas and suggestions with your manager and educator.
If you have any questions, contact a CRPNBC Practice Consultant by email at [email protected] or by phone at 604.931.5200 or 1.800.565.2505.