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Basic Understanding of Medication Administration in a Medical Office

Rapid advancement in healthcare technology, medical research, new discoveries and computer software continually change and affect all phases of how medications are prescribed and administered to patients. It is imperative that the medical assistant staff in any ambulatory facility and medical practice understand the medical tests and medications the doctors prescribe. This knowledge, combined with the basic understanding of how to prepare and administer these drugs in a correct and safe manner enables the medical assistant to monitor patients for signs of side effects and recognize desired outcome.

Medical Substances Use and Safekeeping

A drug is a medical substance, or a mixture of substances for therapeutic, diagnostic, or prophylactic treatment under the direction of a doctor, or medically trained professional, as well as a pharmacist.

Medications are used to:

  • treat a disease or condition
  • ease of pain
  • diagnostic purposes (e.g. barium as a contrast medium)
  • prevention (e.g. vaccines)

Medications should be stored in a separate room away from the examination and treatment floors and not be stored together with other chemicals or substances that are toxic, such as cleaning supplies  Controlled substances and narcotics must remained safely locked at all times.

When preparing medications to be administered the label should be checked three times:

  1. when you take the medication from the shelf
  2. when you dispense (pour)
  3. when you return the medication back to the shelf

Five factors that influence the dosage and drug action are:

  1. patient's weight
  2. age
  3. gender
  4. preexisting conditions (e.g. renal dysfunction, liver disease)
  5. drug tolerance

The general way to pour an oral liquid medication is to

  • wash hands
  • read label carefully
  • shake well
  • wipe off the bottle after pouring
  • do not mix
  • right measuring cup or dropper for that medication
  • hold measuring cup at eye level when pouring
  • be in a well lit area when measuring

The five routes for administration of medications are:

  1. by mouth (oral), gastrointestinal, or parenteral
  2. by injection (muscular, or sub- and intradermal)
  3. per rectum (or vagina)
  4. trough the skin (topical) rubbed in locally
  5. by inhalation (into the airway, bronchi, lungs)

Pediatric considerations are:

  • age
  • weight (kg or pounds!!!)
  • nutritional status
  • rapid weight loss
  • body surface area

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