Dispensing "Pass" Medications

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Your long term care resident is going out for dinner with her family. There is an order from her doctor for 6 p.m. medications. These medications have been dispensed by the pharmacy. What is your responsibility?


A: Label and package the medications and give them to the resident after providing the appropriate education.

Correct! When pharmacists dispense medications, they review each medication’s pharmaceutical and therapeutic suitability. LPNs are then responsible to ensure each medication's proper use. See Principles 4, 6 and 7 in the Dispensing Medications Practice Standard.

B: Refer the resident to her doctor because it is not within scope of practice for LPNs to dispense medications.

That’s not correct. The 2015 Nurses (Licensed Practical) Regulation authorizes LPNs to dispense certain medications both with and without an order, and under specific circumstances. See What is Dispensing Medications? in the Dispensing Medications Practice Standard.

C: Put the medications into a sealed envelope and tell the resident when to take them.

That's not correct. When taking steps to ensure proper use, LPNs:

  • Label the medication legibly with the: Client’s name, date of birth and personal health number or medical record number
    • Medication name, dosage, route and (where appropriate) strength
    • Directions for use
    • Quantity dispensed
    • Date dispensed
    • Initials of the LPN dispensing the medication
    • Name, address and telephone number of the agency that dispensed the medication
    • Any other information that is appropriate/specific to the medication
  • Package the medication in a way that is most appropriate for the client
  • Hand the medication directly to the client or delegate
  • Provide education to the client or delegate that includes:
    • The purpose of the medication
    • The dosage regime, expected benefits, potential side effects, storage requirements and instructions required to achieve a therapeutic response
    • Written information about the medication
    • Advice on seeking follow-up care

D: Administer the medications just before the resident leaves the facility to ensure they are taken appropriately.

That’s not correct. LPNs adhere to the “rights” of medication administration. LPNs dispense medications when it is in the best interest of the resident. When a pharmacist has reviewed a medication’s pharmaceutical and therapeutic suitability, LPNs take steps to ensure its proper use. See Principles 1, 4 and 7 in the Dispensing Medications Practice Standard. Also see Principle 3 in the Medication Administration Practice Standard.

Always review your employer policy as it may place further restrictions on dispensing medications than the Nurses (Licensed Practical) Regulation and CLPNBC standards, limits and conditions. See the Dispensing Medications Practice Standard.