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. It is not, however, a function that can be carried out ‘mechanically’ or following orders, but should be seen as a task that must be carried out in strict compliance with the written prescription of a medical practitioner. More importantly, it is task that requires thought and the exercise of professional judgement (NMC, 2002:3).
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