Medication Therapy: Procedures and Protocols

Table of Contents

Medication therapy is a vital and necessary aspect for the treatment and improvement of patient care in healthcare facilities. However, there are numerous risks, ethical concerns, and potential for errors with medications. Therefore, management with strict procedures and protocols is required to ensure professional and safe storage, labeling, transport, prescription, distribution, and administration of pharmaceutical drugs. Such protocols protect both health professionals and patients, ensuring that proper measures are in place to avoid abuse or error.

Generic Drugs

Generic and non-prescription drugs do not face the same scrutiny as controlled substances. However, they still require careful management and accountability for safety and security purposes.

  • Medication should be stored in secure and dry areas. Only authorized personnel should have access to the drugs.
  • Handling of medications should be done with caution. All containers must be clearly labeled.
  • A chart and list are keeping track of ordered, stored, and dispensed medication should be maintained.
  • Medication requests by patients should be verified with the patient records and checked for any interactions. Dosages are carefully regulated as well.
  • Support systems should be in place to enable informed decisions for both clients and physicians (NHS, 2018).

Controlled Drugs

The highly addictive nature of controlled substances requires significant oversight over all actions with the drug. Security standards and effective operating controls are required.

  • The number of employees with access to these drugs should be limited. Background checks are strongly recommended.
  • Controlled substances must be stored in a locked cabinet or safe with a sturdy. They should be kept concealed and separate from other medications.
  • A chart with the quantity of all controlled drugs should always be on hand and kept up to date, with potential audits for verification (Diversion Control Division, n.d.).
  • Handling of controlled substances should be done with caution to avoid any mix-ups or errors.
  • It is recommended to use proper containers for dispensing and storage. Labels should be clear to read and not worn out.
  • Patient or physician medication requests should be verified by checking patient records and possibly contacting the prescribing physician
  • All order forms must be properly filled, dated, and signed.
  • Medications should be administered accordingly in proper dosages.
  • Any medication prescriptions should be saved, and the administration recorded.
  • Waste of controlled substances should be done by the hospital and federal guidelines. It is illegal to keep or re-use the drugs, nor should anyone be able to recover them after disposal (ASHP, 2018).


Drug theft is a serious issue, which can be prosecuted as a felony criminal charge. If there is a suspicion that a nurse is taking home drugs from a healthcare facility, it is necessary to verify this fact through an unannounced audit. Abuse or loss of substances should be reported immediately to the administration, police, and potentially the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The employee should be immediately suspended pending investigation along with any licenses to handle medications.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are usually non-opioid and are not considered a controlled substance. However, mismanagement of controlled substances results in more severe consequences including jail time. In either case, the nurse will likely be terminated and lose the ability to practice in the medical industry, along with having to pay a fine or reparations to the hospital for ongoing pharmaceutical diversion (Budd, 2018).


ASHP. (2018). . Web.

Budd, L. (2018). 3 nurses were accused of stealing patients’ drugs for themselves. AJC. Web.

Diversion Control Division. (n.d.). Controlled substances security manual. Web.

NHS. (2018). Safe and secure handling of medicines policy. Web.

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