Clinical Newsletter

Administering non-prescription medicines

Have you ever been faced with a patient experiencing chest pain,

an asthma attack or symptoms of anaphylaxis in your pharmacy?

How did you respond? How long would it take for an ambulance to

reach your pharmacy? Although rare, medical emergencies are

situations where pharmacists may be called upon to provide assistance through the

administration of a medicine. Indeed, the public may expect pharmacists to

administer a medicine in a medical emergency. If you have never considered these

questions, then it is most likely that you have not thought about your competence,

and liability as a pharmacist, to administer medicines in a medical emergency.

So what is your scope of practice as a pharmacist in these situations?


Currently there are no legislative or professional guidelines that define

pharmacists’ scope of practice in relation to medical emergencies.1,2

As pharmacists are required to provide consumers with advice on

the correct use of non-prescription medicines and medical devices

that could be used to provide relief in a medical emergency, such as

adrenaline and salbutamol, it seems logical to expect that pharmacists

would be skilled in administering these medicines. Currently, it is not

clear to what extent a pharmacist would be liable for damages if he

or she administered a medicine in a medical emergency and there wasan adverse outcome

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Administering non-prescription medicines