Medication Storage in Assisted Living Communities
The storage of medications is a highly regulated and important subject. Assisted living communities must follow state and federal laws and regulations as well as any recommendations made by a medication’s manufacturer or supplier.
The ultimate goal is, of course, the safety of your residents, so let’s cover these important medication storage procedures one at a time.
Store medication in the containers provided by your pharmacy.
Your pharmacy is responsible for dispensing medications in containers that meet legal requirements and are manufactured well. Therefore, store medications in their original containers and never transfer them to others. Family members/responsible parties or your pharmacy may transfer medications, but only for use in reminder/adherence devices approved by your community.
Medications must be stored in the proper environment where temperature, light and moisture are kept at appropriate levels. These storage areas must be clean, well lit, clutter-free and locked at all times.
Only authorized personnel should have access to your storage areas. These include rooms, carts and anywhere else you store meds in your community.
When storing medication, be sure to clearly separate:
Residents. Each resident’s medications should be separated from every other resident’s.
Topical medications, such as creams and ointments. These meds must be clearly labeled as topical and stored separately from medications that are administered orally.
Cleaning products, urine test reagent tablets, disinfectants, household poisons and any other substances that are potentially harmful. These items should be clearly labeled and stored in their own locked area far from all medications.
Different medications require different storage temperatures. Most medication’s temperature requirements will fall into one of the following categories:
“Room temperature” is 20-25˚C (68-77˚F).
“Refrigeration” means 2-8˚C (36-46˚F). These medications must be stored in a refrigerator that is not used for any other purpose. This fridge must have a thermometer so that your staff can regularly monitor its storage temperature. Check daily for regular medications and twice daily for vaccines.
“In a cool place” means refrigerated, unless the medication’s label states otherwise.
Medications must be removed and disposed of immediately if they are discontinued, expired, contaminated, deteriorated, unlabeled or in cracked, soiled or unsecured containers.
Any time you remove a medication from storage, document the disposal on the Medication Disposition Record and in the resident’s file. Also inform the resident, their family or the person responsible for that resident.
If a medication needs to be replaced, your staff, the resident or their family/responsible party can reorder it from your pharmacy.