Medication safety

Competency Statement: The nursing student demonstrates the ability to administer and monitor the therapeutic use of medications; and respond appropriately to medication errors and adverse drug reactions.


The nursing student:

  1. Outlines key principles of safe medication management
  2. Identifies factors that have the potential to compromise safe medication practices
  3. Defines and differentiates between a medication error, adverse drug reaction, drug sensitivity, side effect and drug allergy
  4. Describes the roles and responsibilities of members of the medication team responsible for prescribing, dispensing and administering medications
  5. Outlines legislative and organisational requirements for medication prescription, storage, use and administration
  6. Describes how to report medication incidents including adverse drug reactions, medication errors and near misses

The nursing student:

  1. Demonstrates the ability to take an accurate medication history
  2. Identifies previous drug allergies, sensitivities or adverse reactions
  3. Uses evidence-based sources of information when administering medications
  4. Includes the person as an active member of the medication team
  5. Consults with members of the medication team responsible for prescribing and dispensing medications (e.g. medical officers and pharmacists)
  6. Takes medication orders via telephone in accordance with legislation and organisational policies
  7. Complies with legislative and organisational requirements related to safe and appropriate handling, storage administration and disposal of medications (including S4D and S8)
  8. Works within own scope of practice with regards to medication administration
  9. Uses only recognised and approved abbreviations related to medication administration
  10. Administers medications only when a valid medication order is provided
  11. Demonstrates safe and accurate medication administration using 6 rights and 3 checks
  12. Prevents and manages interruptions while administering medications
  13. Takes appropriate precautions with high risk medications such as: Anti-infectives Potassium and other electrolytes Insulin Narcotics and other sedatives Chemotherapeutic agents Heparin and other anticoagulants
  14. Accurately documents medication administration and medications that are refused or withheld
  15. Provides appropriate patient education about medication use, side-effects, storage and disposal
  16. Responds to, reports and documents adverse drug reactions, medication errors and near misses in accordance with legislation and organisational policies

Medication safety refers to the safe use of medicines to achieve therapeutic outcomes and improve people’s quality of life, while minimising risks and responding to errors. Medication safety is dependent upon the nurses’ ability to manage the human and systems factors that have the potential to adversely impact the accuracy of medication prescribing, dispensing and administration, and to educate patients to self-manage medications appropriately.