Dispensing Medications

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You are an LPN working in the emergency department of a small community hospital. One of your clients has been discharged with a prescription for antibiotics. The pharmacy is closed. The emergency department has a stock of this medication. What should you do?


A: After ensuring pharmaceutical and therapeutic suitability, dispense the medication following employer policy.

Correct! LPNs can dispense medications to a client under their care when it is in the client’s best interest and the medication has been ordered by an authorized health professional. See Principles 1, 2 and 3 in the Dispensing Medications Practice Standard.

B: Do not dispense the medication because there is no pharmacist on site.

That’s not correct. Under the Nurses (Licensed Practical) Regulation, LPNs can dispense a medication when a pharmacist is not available as long as the medication has been ordered by an authorized health professional. See Principle 5 in the Dispensing Medications Practice Standard.

C: Dispense the medication even though employer policy does not allow LPNs to dispense medications.

That's not correct. Employer policy may place further restrictions on dispensing medications than the Nurses (Licensed Practical) Regulation and CLPNBC standards, limits and conditions. See Applying the Principles in the Dispensing Medications Practice Standard.

D: Dispense the medication even though you are not familiar with its use.

That’s not correct. In some situations, it may be more appropriate for a registered nurse or physician to dispense the medication. If you think you are not the most appropriate person to dispense the medication, consult the health professional who gave the medication order to determine the best course of action. See Applying the Principles in the Dispensing Medications Practice Standard.

Read CLPNBC's Scope of Practice for Licensed Practical Nurses to ensure you understand the standards, limits and conditions under which LPNs may dispense medications. Be aware that your agency's policies may place further controls on dispensing medications than the Nurses (Licensed Practical) Regulation and CLPNBC standards, limits and conditions. Employers are responsible for providing the organizational supports and systems necessary for safe dispensing of medications by LPNs, including medication administration, medication reconciliation and reporting of medication incidents and near misses. See Applying the Principles to Practice in the Dispensing Medications Practice Standard.