The Five R’s to Medication Administration

There is a simple medical principle that all practitioners, regardless of their role (doctor, paramedic, nurse), learn early in their career. Once you give a medication you cannot take it back. 

Mistakes can and on occasion do happen. To mitigate the risk of giving the wrong medication to a patient, practitioners learn the five Rs to medication administration. 
Although this might sound a bit hectic, it is knowledge that I believe parents would benefit from learning.

The 5 Rights

Right medication:

Ensure that what you think you are giving is actually what is in your hand. Sometimes tablets can look exceptionally similar. Read the name of the medication from the packaging out loud. It might seem silly at the time, but it will stop you from giving your child the wrong drug. 

Right patient:

In the hospital setting, there are many patients, so you must ensure that what you are administering is going to the right patient. As a parent, this shouldn’t really be a problem. That being said, if you have multiple children who are all sick at the same time, just double check that what you are giving is going to the right child. 

Right route:

How are you going to give the medication? Is it oral (via the mouth), sublingual (under the tongue, nasal (up the nose), rectal… 

Right dose:

This is one of the biggest mistakes we see as paramedics – parents accidentally overdosing their child. Take the time to read and comprehend the packaging. If you are unsure of the dose don’t give the medication. Remember, once it’s in you can’t take it back. 

Right time:

Write down the time that you gave the first dose. Make sure that you only give subsequent doses as recommended by the manufacturer. Writing down times makes remembering easier, especially when you are giving medications throughout the night. There are also mobile apps that record when you give medications – check out the CareClinic App. 

As with all things first aid, slow is pro. Take the time to understand what you are about to do. Do it slowly and ensure that you do it right. 

Author: Theo Mallos – Intensive Care Paramedic and founder of Rescueblue