When dispensing medications, we want to do whatever we can to increase compliance with the prescribed dosage regimen. One aspect of this is dispensing medications in a way to facilitate ease of administration. The ideas described below can help prevent errors and decrease the likelihood of accidental medication spills.
When dispensing oral liquids:
- Insert an appropriately sized stopper into the bottle
- Include an appropriate syringe for administering the medication
- Mark the syringe for the patient’s prescribed dose to prevent syringe reading errors If the medication being dispensed is an oral liquid antibiotic that needs to be reconstituted and the client will be reconstituting it at home, they need to be provided with the proper supplies. This would include everything in the bullet points above as well as proper reconstitution instructions and an appropriate size syringe that is dose marked for the amount of water that needs to be added to the medication for reconstitution.
Clearly mark expiration dates on the label. When repackaging oral solids (tablets and capsules) from the manufacturer bottle into a pill bottle, the expiration date is one year or the manufacturer’s date, whichever comes first. Compounded medications will have shorter dates. It’s also important to note medications that expire a certain number of days after reconstitution. Make sure to check package inserts, as some products like Atopica liquid and furosemide solution expire a number of weeks after opening the bottle.
If the medication is chemotherapy (palladia, cyclophosphamide, CCNU, etc.), hazardous (cyclosporine, zonisamide, chloramphenicol, or other NIOSH medication) or has an auxiliary label that states gloves should be worn when administering the product (transdermal mirtazapine, DMSO), a pair of gloves should be dispensed with the product and the client should be counseled to purchase their own gloves for further administrations.
This month’s column is from Alex Gochenauer, PharmD, FSVHP.