Patients have often been taking medications at home quite successfully for some time prior to admission to the hospital. There, physicians and nurses often take this responsibility away from them, only to give it back again at discharge. To increase patient safety, involve patients in their own care by having them administer their own medications while in the hospital. This is an excellent means to verify patients’ understanding of their medications and provide education about the medications and how to administer them.
Patients have the most at stake in making sure that their medications are administered correctly and on time, so they are likely to try to do it correctly. Another benefit is that because they only have their own medications to administer, they may have a better chance of doing so on time than busy nursing staff might.
- Encourage patients who are capable to administer their own medications, but don’t force the issue. If the patient is uncomfortable with the idea, it may be best not to take this course.
- To educate parents of pediatric patients in care of the patient, have them administer medications to their child, as long as it is appropriate and they are comfortable with the idea.
- Remember that older pediatric patients (not babies or toddlers) like to be included and have a role in their own care, so consider ways for them to self-medication with appropriate supervision. This is particularly important for children with chronic illnesses.
- Ensure that your organization has in place a good recording system to accurately capture information about doses that patients have administered themselves. Consider a patient-maintained medication administration record.
- Re-assess patients regularly to ensure that they are still capable of self-medication since their clinical condition and some therapies may affect their ability to do this well.