Is an RN Allowed to Dispense Medications?

Dispensing medication includes all activities from preparing and packaging to giving the medication to the patient.

You need to understand the difference between medication dispense and administer.

To administer medication to a patient means to prepare the correct dose and provide immediate dosing.

These actions are regulated by the law.

For example, 2019 Lawbook for pharmacy in the section California’s Business and Professions Code, the dispense is recognized as furnishing drugs and devices directly  “to a patient by a physician, dentist, optometrist, podiatrist, or veterinarian, or by a certified nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner, naturopathic doctor, or physician assistant acting within the scope of his or her practice.”

Therefore, the registered nurse isn’t on the list of allowed healthcare workers for dispensing medications.

The responsibilities of nurses include providing safe and competent care to the community and their patients.

Each state has its Board of Nursing, an institutional body, in charge of managing and creating the Nurse Practise Act.

The Nurse Practise Act further regulates the Standards of Practice.

In most states, the boards use the Business and Professions Code as a basis to maintain and regulate dispensing and medication administration.

In 2013, registered nurses in California got the clearance to dispense some medication but only under specific circumstances defined by the California Board of Registered Nursing and the California Business and Professions Code.

The purpose was to aid the contraceptive medication distribution.

According to California regulation, a registered nurse is allowed to dispenses self-administered hormonal contraceptives.

Before the nurse gets clearance, she needs to be trained and become competent for those medications.

On the other hand, in North Dakota, a licensed nurse is allowed to distribute medication to a patient, but only under certain circumstances as well.

Those circumstances include prior labels on the packaging of medication by physicians or pharmacists.

The label must have a patient name, expiration date, medication, dose, and using instruction.

When the physician writes the order, in the patient record following all rules, then a nurse may dispense the medication to the patient.

The physician or pharmacist has to inform the patient about medication.

In 16 US state registered nurses are allowed to dispense some medication under strictly defined circumstances.

To get more information about dispense clearances; a nurse should refer to the state Board of Nursing for further directions and instruction on dispensing medications.

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