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A Guide to Safe Medication Administration for Healthcare Professionals

Medication administration

Table of Contents

Sharon McCulloch

In the fast-paced environment of healthcare, the safe and accurate administration of medication is a critical responsibility for all healthcare professionals. Whether you’re a nurse, doctor, or pharmacist, safe medication practices are essential for ensuring patient health. Care providers, both professionals and those caring for loved ones, need to ensure medication is always administered correctly.

In this guide, we will explore best practices and essential tips for safe medication administration. By understanding and implementing these guidelines, healthcare professionals can enhance patient safety and contribute to positive treatment outcomes. So, whether you’re a seasoned professional looking for a refresher or a newcomer seeking guidance, this article aims to provide valuable insights to support you in your vital role of medication administration.

What is Medication Administration?

Medication administration is the process of delivering prescribed medication to individuals by those who are authorised to provide assistance. Put simply, it is when one person helps another take their medication. Whether it’s a healthcare professional or a regular person lending a hand, if you assist someone in taking medication, then that’s considered medication administration.

When you administer medications incorrectly, it can have serious and adverse effects on the human body. Illness or even death can result, and the person responsible for the incorrect administration is the one responsible.

prescription medication handout

Interpret Instructions Correctly

The first step in safe medication administration is to ensure a clear understanding of the instructions. It’s vital to correctly interpret and clarify written and verbal orders to avoid misunderstandings and prevent medication administration errors. Equally important is checking for potential drug interactions by using any reliable resources on hand in order to prevent any adverse drug reactions and effects.

Safely Prepare Medications

Equally as essential as ensuring one has the correct medications per instructions is preparing them to be delivered correctly and safely. Healthcare professionals should access the medication they’re about to deliver according to organisational procedures and policies, ensuring it aligns with their role and legislative requirements.

Next they should check the medication resources available to determine the appropriate method for administration. This is followed by correctly identifying the medication dosage and measuring out the required dose accurately using the relevant equipment.

Finally, it’s essential to confirm the calculated and measured medication dosage with their relevant authorised person before administration to ensure medication safety and accuracy, and quality health service.

Administer the Medication

Arguably the most important part of safe medication administration is the administration itself. You’ve confirmed you have the right medication and dosage, now you need to safely deliver it to the patient. That means watching them swallow their pills, safely injecting the dosage, or whatever it means to ensure that particular medication has been administered.

To do so, it’s important to follow hygienic and aseptic handling procedures, observe standard precautions, and be vigilant for any adverse events or allergic reactions related to the medication. Finally, the disposal of used equipment, packaging, and medical waste should be carried out according to the manufacturer’s instructions, infection control, and organisational procedures and policies.

Woman taking medication medication administration

Monitor Patients in Self-Administering Medications

Part of medication administration is allowing patients to take their own medication themselves. This includes instructing them in the right way to do so, and overseeing their self-administration. As a healthcare professional, even when a patient self-administers medication, you are ultimately still the one most responsible.

The first step in monitoring self-administration is demonstrating the correct use of relevant equipment and guiding the client through the process, providing direct assistance as necessary. After the self-administration is completed, it’s important to confirm with the client that the process has been finished.

Complete Documentation

Every instance of medication administration must be accompanied by documenting the processes which have been taken. A medication administration record includes keeping client files up to date by completing all relevant records relating to the specific medication administered, such as access, storage, and disposal requirements, and storing said documentation according to organisation policies and procedures.

The documentation stage may not initially seem as important as the other steps. However, doing so allows healthcare professionals to track their patients’ progress, identify where mistakes have been made, and rectify any medication errors.

The 7 Rights of Medication Administration

If you’re still not completely confident in the steps required for safe medication administration, there’s an even simpler way to remember them. The seven rights of medication administration is a mnemonic device which serves as a useful framework for tracking each step of the process.

The seven rights of medication administration are as follows: right patient, right medication, right dose, right time, right route, right reason, and right documentation.

Right Patient

Right patient is as simple as making sure that the name on the label matches the name of the patient you are giving the medication to. The right drug is the wrong medication when given to a different patient from the one it was meant to go to.

Right Drug

Medication often has a complex name that can be difficult to remember, and oftentimes many of these names can be similar. Right drug is as easy as double checking you have the correct medication by comparing the name of the medication you hold in your hand against the medication you’ve been instructed to give to a patient.

Right Dose

The right drug can have the wrong effects when the wrong amount is taken. At best a dose that’s too low can have little or no effect, and at worst it can worsen your patient’s situation. Ensuring you have the right dose prevents either of these possibilities.

Right Time

Prescribed medications need to be taken at certain times, and a specific number of times per day. Failure to adhere to this schedule can mean doubling up on a dosage or missing one entirely, which can have the same adverse effects as the previous step.

Right Route

There are a variety of different ways to deliver medication. There are pills to be taken orally, injections right into a patient’s bloodstream, and many, many more. Administering medication via the right route into the body ensures it has the correct effect on the patient.

Right Reason

Ensuring the right reason for medication administration is important because it helps prevent the inappropriate use of medication, ultimately contributing to patient safety and effective treatment. By confirming that the medication is being given for the correct purpose, such as providing pain relief for a patient experiencing pain, healthcare professionals can minimise the likelihood of patient harm, the chance that medication errors occur, and reduce the risk of adverse drug events.

Right Documentation

Medication error reporting is something we’ve already discussed. By documenting the entire medication administration process you can prevent, isolate, and rectify any mistakes which might occur.

correct medicine administration explanation

No Substitute for Training

We hope this guide comes in handy for any healthcare professional during the medication management and administration processes. While it might be useful to have on hand, a written guide is no substitute for medication administration training.

For those new to the healthcare industry, medication administration training should be undertaken as soon as possible if you haven’t already. For professionals who have been in the industry for some time already, periodic refresher training can help you ensure that these skills and knowledge remain second nature. So whether you’re new or experienced, whether you need your first training session or a refresher, enrol in a medication administration course with First Aid Pro today.

The content on this website offers general insights regarding health conditions and potential treatments. It is not intended as, and should not be construed as, medical advice. If you are facing a medical emergency, dial 000 immediately and follow the guidance provided.

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