Medicine dispensing is the process of preparing and giving medication to a prescribed client. In general, states have differing regulating procedures on the dispensation of drugs by pharmacists. The process of medicine dispensation may occur in public or private health centers or pharmacies. The goal is to have the correct form of the drug, labeled accurately, and get into the patient’s hands. It is essential that institutional bodies ensure the lawful preparation, labeling, and distribution of medicine for patient use, as it directly affects their well-being.
Maintaining a safe and clean environment is the foundation to having a good practice. The dispensation environment is not in the same physical surroundings such as storage areas. The physical surroundings should be protected from dirt as much as possible. Spills of any kind need to be dealt with immediately to discourage insects and other pests. Periodic cleaning of the floor, surfaces and removal of garbage is a must. Food and drinks are not allowed in a dispensing location, as the regularly monitored refrigerator is for medication only.
Organizational skills are also critical so that mistakes in distribution are not made. Prepackaged medication should be labeled in clear font. Storing medicines in alphabetical order and according to how they are described on dosage forms also helps to mitigate human error. Additionally, keeping track of and rotating medication by expiration date ensures timely removal of old items. An example of human error is cross-contamination. This can be particularly dangerous to patients with allergies and other sensitivities. While there are many ways to specifically prevent cross contamination, keeping a clean, organized environment in general is good etiquette.
The staff chosen to dispense medication should be individuals specifically qualified and chosen for the role, not just any available employee. As the patient often does not know how to use the supplied medication, it is very important that the staff member is knowledgeable. In most countries this knowledgeable staff member is known as a pharmacist. Other skills that a good pharmacist should have are strong arithmetic and calculating skills, communication skills and general medical knowledge. Depending on the type of medications being provided and the amount of responsibility expected, the level of education for pharmacist will vary by region and laws.
SOPs (standard operating procedures) are often for training staff and provide guidance for all steps of the dispensing process. When a prescription is received, the pharmacist should confirm that the name of the patient is correct. With larger dispensing facilities with more patients, this step is more complex and more important. Now that prescribing medication has become more common, there are fewer issues with illegible handwriting. Next a pharmacist should properly read and confirm that the doses of the prescribed medication are appropriate for the patient. After that, the medication and label can be prepared. This includes measuring or counting the medicine quantity and packaging the medication in a container. After making a final check of the dosage and label, the prescribed medication can be given to the patient with clear, easy to understand directions on its usage.
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