On this page

Requirements for residential care facilities (RCFs) under the NSW Poisons and Therapeutic Goods legislation

The Commonwealth Government Living Longer Living Better (LLLB) reform to the residential aged care sector included removal of the distinction between ‘high level of residential care’ and ‘low level of residential care’ which came into effect under the Aged Care Act 1997 from 1 July 2014.

Pending review of the NSW Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 (the Regulation) RCFs that included one or more high level of residential care allocated places approved under the Aged Care Act 1997 on 30 June 2014 should continue to procure, store, record and administer medications that have been prescribed and dispensed for residents in accordance with the requirements for a ‘nursing home’ as a ‘hospital’ under the Regulation.

These requirements under the Regulation are described in the guidance to ‘nursing homes’ in Information Bulletin 2003/10 Guide to the Handling of Medication in Nursing Homes in NSW.

However, from 7 December 2018 all NSW RCFs approved under the Aged Care Act 1997 may hold a range of urgent use medications.

Urgent use medications in RCFs

Urgent use Schedule 4 medications and morphine ampoules (Schedule 8)

From 19 July 2019 the following Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 medications may be stocked at a RCF for urgent treatment when the retail pharmacy which provides residents’ dispensed medicines is closed.

  • antibiotics in oral form, no more than 5 (five) different antibiotic substances
  • atropine sulfate monohydrate injection
  • clonazepam oral liquid 2.5 mg/mL, no more than 20 mL
  • diazepam injection, no more than 5 (five) ampoules of 10 mg/2 mL
  • furosemide (frusemide) injection
  • glycopyrronium bromide (glycopyrrolate) injection
  • hyoscine butylbromide injection
  • metoclopramide hydrochloride monohydrate injection
  • midazolam injection, no more than 10 (ten) ampoules of 5 mg/5 mL or 5 mg/1 mL
  • morphine sulfate pentahydrate injection, no more than 30 (thirty) 5 mg/1 mL, 10 mg/1 mL, 15 mg/1 mL or 30 mg/1 mL ampoules
  • prochlorperazine mesilate injection.

 

Protocols approved by the RCFs Medication Advisory Committee should determine which of the available medications are needed for urgent treatment, and provide information to registered nurses on the handling, administration and recording of the medications.

The urgent use medications must be obtained from a retail pharmacist on a signed and dated written order from the Director of Nursing or Care Manager at a RCF where there is no Director of Nursing.

The medications must be obtained from the retail pharmacist in the manufacturer’s original pack and administered to the resident directly from that pack. Morphine ampoules must be stored in the RCF’s Schedule 8 drug storage unit, and the transactions (procurement and administration) recorded in a drug register.

A written procedure for general stock control is required to ensure that stock rotation and expiry date checking of the medications occurs.

The medications may only be administered:

  • by a registered nurse on the authority of an authorised prescriber (that is a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner or dentist) either in writing or by telephone, email or fax
  • by the authorised prescriber on site at the RCF.

On receipt of the resident’s dispensed medication, the urgent use medication stock must be withdrawn from use and placed back in storage.

For approval to stock Schedule 4 medications other than those listed above, an application from the Director of Nursing or Care Manager (as applicable) can be made to the Chief Pharmacist at email MOH-PharmaceuticalServices@health.nsw.gov.au

Schedule 2 and 3 nurse-initiated medications

RCFs may also hold stock of a range of Schedule 2 and 3 medications for administration as nurse-initiated medications.

Any Schedule 2 medication and the following Schedule 3 urgent use medications may be held in stock:

  • adrenaline (epinephrine) injection (ampoules or EpiPen)
  • glucagon injection
  • glyceryl trinitrate in tablet form
  • glyceryl trinitrate sublingual spray
  • naloxone injection
  • salbutamol metered aerosol.

The list of Schedule 2 and 3 medications for use at the RCF must be approved by the RCF’s Medication Advisory Committee. Written protocols for the use of each medication must provide sufficient detail for the RCF staff member to make informed decisions prior to administration and be reviewed every twelve months.

Protocols should include:

  1. the circumstances in which the medication may be administered to a particular resident
  2. the form, strength, dose, route of administration, frequency of administration and indications and contra-indications for use, including possible interaction with other medications
  3. a procedure for medication incident and adverse drug reaction reporting to the Medication Advisory Committee.

The medications must be obtained from a retail pharmacist on a signed and dated written order from the Director of Nursing or Care Manager at a RCF where there no Director of Nursing.

The medications must be obtained from the retail pharmacist in the manufacturer’s original pack and administered to the resident directly from that pack.

A written procedure for general stock control is required to ensure that stock rotation and expiry date checking of the medications occurs

Prescribing and dispensing on a residential medication chart prescription

An authorised practitioner may issue a prescription on a compliant residential medication chart (RMC) under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008.

The residential medication chart prescription must be in a form:

  1. approved under regulation 41(5) of the National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Regulations 2017 of the Commonwealth, or
  2. that complies with the requirements of regulation 41(5) of the National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Regulations 2017 of the Commonwealth and that is, in all material respects, equivalent to a form approved under that regulation.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has published guidance on use of residential medication chart prescriptions.

The prescription must relate to a patient receiving treatment in, or at, a residential care service at which the patient is receiving residential care under the Aged Care Act 1997. Compliant residential medication chart prescriptions permit both the prescribing and dispensing of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medications and non-PBS medications, with some exceptions.

A duplicate copy of a compliant residential medication chart prescription may be used by pharmacists to dispense unscheduled, Schedule 2, Schedule 3 and most Schedule 4 medications. However, the following medications ordered on a residential medication must also be prescribed on a traditional hand-written or computer generated prescription (see PDF Criteria for Issuing Non-handwritten (Computer-Generated) Prescriptions):

  • Schedule 8 medications
  • anabolic-androgenic steroids
  • amylobarbitone or pentobarbitone injections
  • clomiphene, cyclofenil, dinoprost, dinoprostone, acitretin, etretinate, or isotretinoin.

To be valid for dispensing by a pharmacist the medication chart prescription must include the following details:

  • the name and address of the patient
  • the name and form (if not readily apparent) of the substance to be supplied
  • the strength (if not readily apparent) of the substance to be supplied
  • the route of administration (if not readily apparent) of the substance to be supplied
  • adequate directions for use
  • the frequency or times at which the substance is to be administered or used
  • the name and designation of the person by whom it is issued
  • the name, address and telephone number of the relevant residential care facility
  • the period during which the substance is to be used or administered (being a period that ends on a date that is no more than 4 months from the date of first use of the relevant chart for the resident)
  • the date on which it is issued.

An authorised practitioner must complete the details above at 9. and 10. in handwriting then sign the prescription.

The details above at 1. to 8. may be:

  • handwritten by the authorised practitioner, or
  • generated by an appropriate software system then printed on the prescription.

The authorised practitioner who issues the prescription must confirm any dose that could be regarded as being dangerous or unusual by underlining the part of the prescription that specifies the intended dose and by initialing the prescription in the margin.

Recording, Endorsement, Cancellation and Retention of Residential Medication Chart Prescriptions

Pharmacists must use a procedure which ensures the retained duplicate copy of a residential medication chart prescription is contemporary and accurately reflect medications dispensed to patients.

The pharmacy’s primary dispensing software must record the current medication order for each patient. Care should be taken to ensure that the current medication order is also recorded in any secondary software program used to label medication packed in a dose administration aid.

The dispensing pharmacist must endorse the medication orders on the duplicate copy of the residential medication chart prescription with the:

  • date on which the medication is dispensed
  • pharmacy’s unique prescription reference number pertaining to the dispensing of the medication on that date
  • name and address of the pharmacy.

The dispensing pharmacist must endorse each medication order on the duplicate copy of a compliant RMC with the word ‘CANCELLED’ on the last occasion that medication is dispensed.

The duplicate copy of each residential medication chart prescription must be retained at the dispensing pharmacy for a period of two years from the date the most recent medication was dispensed.

For further information on the use of residential medication chart prescriptions contact the Duty Pharmaceutical Officer at the Pharmaceutical Regulatory Unit by telephone on (02) 9391 9944 or email MOH-PharmaceuticalServices@health.nsw.gov.au

Page Updated: Monday 22 July 2019
Contact page owner: Pharmaceutical Services