The safe and efficient administration of medication is one of the key responsibilities of the professional nurse. The practice of drug administration involves providing the patient with a substance prescribed and intended for the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a medical illness or condition (Hopkins, 1999). Although, effective drug administration involves the actual and complete conveyance of a prescribed medication to the patient, however, there is wider set of practices required to achieve safe, effective patient outcomes and to prepare for and evaluate the outcome of medication administration (Potter and Anne, 1997; Taylor et al, 1997).
Because nurses administer prescribed drugs directly to patients, they happen to be the last link in the safe and effective drug prescription and administration sequence. Increased acuity of the patient nurses have to serve and the apparent reduction in the volume of resources available to nurses to ensure safe and effective practice, have greatly complicated the role of the nurse in drug administration (Cook, 2002). The purpose of this paper is therefore, to examine the legal, ethical and professional requirements of safe nursing drug administration.
According to the NMC Guidelines for the Administration of Medicines, administration of medicines is a vital part of the professional duty of the nurse. ...
Drug administration play a crucial role in achieving positive patient outcomes and despite the complexities involved with safely administering medications to patients, the professional nurse is duty-bound to do everything within her professional capacity to ensure this. The NMC code of professional conduct stipulates that the professional nurse should always act to identify and minimise risks to patients and clients. To ensure that this principle in upheld in drug administration, the nurse must act in accordance with, not only ethical and professional guidelines, but also be aware of the legal aspects of his/her actions (NMC, 2004). The NMC places great emphasis on accountable. It is a common saying that as a registered nurse, one is expected to give account and be accountable for every action or inaction (NMC, 2002: 4).
In administering drug to patients and clients, therefore, the professional nurse is mandated to apply his/her knowledge and skills, as well as exercise professional judgement. The following sections examines the ethical, professional and legal scope of this 'professional judgement' that the nurse must exercise in safely administering drugs to achieve positive patient outcomes and also to avoid medication errors that appears to be on the rise, lately (Dandry, 2004; Weston, 2002).
Ethical Scope of Nurse Drug Administration
To ensure safe and efficient administration of drugs to patients and clients, nurses must work in line with the guiding ethics of professional practice. First, the nurse must earn the trust and confidence of the patient, since they must respect the client as an individual, and seek consent before giving treatment or care (NMC, 2004). In this respect, communication is