For residents who receive assistance with medication or administration of medication, the ALF is responsible for making every reasonable effort to ensure that medications are refilled in a timely manner. Each ALF should have clear procedures for doing this. If you are not familiar with your facility’s procedures, find out what they are prior to assisting residents with their medications.
BEST PRACTICE: The following describes the best practice procedures for reordering medications.
- Reorder medications from the pharmacy 7 days prior to running out or as directed by the facility’s policy.
- Keep a log of medications which have been reordered in the medication storage area. This way everyone who has responsibility can see if a medication has been reordered.
- If medications are not received within 3 days of ordering, call the pharmacy (or family member) to find out where they are and how you will be able to get them prior to running out. [Even if a designated person is responsible for ordering medications, everyone who assists with medication should be responsible for finding out when refills will arrive, if they haven’t been received 3 days prior to running out.]
- When medications are received, check to make sure the correct prescription has arrived prior to placing it into storage.
- Indicate that medications have been received on the log.
Each ALF may have different procedures for reordering medications. Some ALFs designate a nurse to handle all health care order, medication reordering, and disposal of medication, etc. It’s imperative that each ALF has a system in place to ensure that residents do not run out of medications. Such a procedure should also address:
- Procedures for notifying families of the need for medication refills, if the family wishes to pick up prescription medications at a local pharmacy.
- Procedures to follow if the family doesn’t bring medications in prior to the resident running out of medication.
- Procedures to follow when family members bring over-the-counter medications or herbal therapies to residents.
- Ordering medications by mail; handling order changes by mail. [Some residents have insurance which covers prescription medication only if they are ordered by mail.]
- Designation of responsibilities for medication reordering. [For example, the staff who work the second shift are responsible for reordering medications, or nursing staff is responsible, etc.]