How to safely store medicines

If you work as a healthcare professional or are managing staff who handle medication, professional training may provide the skills needed to enable your teams to safely prompt or assist the taking of medication and store medication securely.
It is very important that medicine storage is done in a compliant, safe and knowledgeable way in order to provide effective care for patients and to protect staff. The National Institute for Health and Social Care states that healthcare providers should have robust processes in place to enable workers to support people in taking medication safely. This should include the 6 ‘R’s’ and the safe storage of medicine.

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Administration of medical training to workers by organisations such as can provide the skills and confidence they need to safely administer and store medicines and should be provided in the first instance.

However, here are some core principles to follow when considering how to safely store medicines.

Authorised access

Healthcare providers who are responsible for storing medicine on behalf of a person should have watertight processes in place to ensure that those who have access to the medication are authorised, and are not at risk by having access to it, for example, a vulnerable patient. This should be kept under constant review. Clarity should be sought from a medical professional if there is any doubt about this.

Secure cupboards or store rooms

You must ensure that the place where the medication is being kept (if not directly with the patient) is safe and secure. This means ensuring that only those with authorised access can access the space. It should also be kept in a manner appropriate to the medication, for example, some medicines will need to be kept in a fridge.

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Health and social care providers must have robust processes in place to dispose of unwanted or damaged medicines if they are defined as a ‘controlled’ medication. Specific provisions also need to be put in place to dispose of needles, and training should be provided to staff. Providers should keep good legible records of medication administration and disposal.

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