Safe Practices for Sample Medications Part 2: Safely Storing & Monitoring Medication Samples

In part 2 of our blog series on safe practices for sample medications, we review tips for safely storing and monitoring medication samples.

Last week, we began a four part blog series on Safe Practices for Providing Sample Medications in Your Office. In the first blog, we offered tips in regard to receiving medication samples. In today’s blog, we will review tips for safely storing and monitoring medication samples.

Storing Sample Medications in a Safe Environment

When it comes to storing and monitoring medication samples, the first area to consider is the environment where you plan to store these medications.

Some points to consider in regard to storing sample medications:

  • All medications should be stored in a locked room or a cabinet inaccessible to patients and with limited access to unauthorized staff members.
  • The room should be temperature controlled with no direct sunlight. Room temperatures should be consistent and avoid extremes.
  • Lighting should promote easy reading of labels and dosages.
  • Refrigerators with sample medications should:
    • Be checked twice daily for maintenance of correct temperatures (at the beginning and the end of each day).
    • Have an alert system for power failure when the office is closed.
    • Be included in a backup plan in case of power failure.
  • Storage shelving should be large enough so that sample medications are not crowded and within easy reach for using the FIFO (first in-first out) inventory method.
  • Labels should face forward and be easily readable.

Monitoring Sample Medications

While monitoring sample medications will be easier if the area is well organized utilizing some of the above tips, you should also make sure that:

  • Stored samples are checked on a regulated basis with regard to expiration dates and packaging integrity.
  • A log as to when the review is done and by whom is maintained.

Organizing Sample Medications

Sample medications can be organized in various ways. One way is by drug or drug group; however, medications with similar names should be separated in an effort to reduce the chances of an incorrect medication being chosen. 

Manufacturer recommendations should always be consulted and adhered to when storing sample medications.

Handling New Sample Medications

When a new sample medication is received, the following steps should be considered to reduce the storage risks that it might bring:

  • Consider whether the name of new medication sounds or looks like other products in your inventory.
  • Consider whether the packaging looks similar to other products in your inventory.
  • Consider whether the new medication is the same medication you have in inventory but with a different method of administration, concentration or dosage. If any of these conditions exist:
    • Move the products that look alike or sound alike away from each other.
    • If possible, store those medications with different administration methods, concentrations and dosages separately, away from, their counterparts.

As always, be sure to check with your local medical association and/or pharmacy board as to specific requirements for storing and dispensing sample medications in your state.

For additional information on this topic, the Pharmacy Times has published an article on Medication Samples and Safety Concerns for Physician Practices.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog on Prudently Distributing Sample Medications to Patients. 

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