Principles of Medication Administration

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  • 0:01 Medication Administration
  • 0:23 Principles
  • 1:16 Rights of Medication…
  • 4:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

For a nurse, administering medication is an important responsibility. To avoid errors, a nurse must adhere to the principles of medication administration. Learn about the general principles, including the rights of drugs administration.

Medication Administration

For a nurse, safely administering medications to patients is an important job duty. If you're a nurse, you must be knowledgeable about the medications being administered. You must also ensure that the right medications are given to the right patients in the right way. In this lesson, you'll learn about some of the general principles of medication administration.


When you give medications, you want to keep in mind that the goal is to help your patients improve their health. Talk with your patients, and give them information about the medication. It's a patient's right to know the name, purpose, and possible side effects of the drugs they are given. To promote safety, you want to remember to wash your hands before and after handling medications.

Also, when you're confused or in doubt, you need to ask questions. It's your responsibility to administer the right medication, so you need to question any order that seems inappropriate. This is where your knowledge of the drugs and the patient's health history becomes important. If you do uncover a problem or if you make a mistake, you need to report errors to the patient's physician or other authorities so that the damage can be controlled.

Rights of Medication Administration

One of the main principles of safe drug distribution is to practice the rights of medication administration. We can sum the rights of medication administration up by saying that a nurse needs to give the right client the right drug in the right dose at the right time via the right route, and when that's all done, the nurse must provide the right documentation. Let's look at each of these rights a bit closer.

Making sure you have the right client might sound trivial, but it's not. It's easy to make errors, especially if you're working in a busy unit where many patients come and go. Errors can be reduced if you check the patient's wristband and match it to a second piece of identification, such as the patient's case number. It can also help to ask the patient his or her name.

The right client must be given the right drug. This can be tricky if a generic version of a drug is being used in place of the brand name drug. Some medications have similar spellings, such as Percocet and Percodan. Both contain oxycodone, but Percodan contains aspirin, which a patient might not be able to tolerate.

To reduce errors, you must compare the medication label to the medication order form three different times. Check that you have the right drug before removing the drug from storage, as you prepare the dose, and before returning the drug to storage.

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