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Safe Practices for Sample Medications Part 3: Prudently Distributing Sample Medications to Your Patients

In the third part of our sample medication blog series we will discuss prudent tips for distributing sample medications to your patients.

In the first two parts of our sample medications blog series, we reviewed Responsibly Receiving Sample Medications from your Pharmaceutical Representatives and Safely Storing and Monitoring Sample Medications. In this part of the series, we will discuss prudent tips for distributing sample medications to your patients.

Recall from the first part of this series that providing sample medications can be a means to assisting patients who have limited financial resources, and a way to get them started right away on the path to better health. 

However, this also means that you, as the provider, are acting as a pharmacist. Therefore, it is important that you consult with your local medical association and pharmacy board to be sure that you are complying with state and federal regulations.

Documentation of Sample Medications

As with most every patient contact, if it is not documented, it did not happen. In light of this, when providing sample medications, your documentation is extremely important. 

Just as you would when prescribing any medication, when it comes to providing sample medications, you should confirm the existence of any known drug allergies, duplicate therapies, drug interactions and contraindications. 

Before providing sample medications to your patient, be sure to check:

  • The expiration date of the sample medication
  • The integrity of the packaging

Your documentation in the patient’s chart should reflect:

  • Name of the sample medication
  • Date sample is provided
  • Amount dispensed, dosage, frequency, route of administration
  • Lot number
  • Instructions provided to the patient along with relevant side effects and limitations
    • Be sure to use plain language – at a 5th grade level
    • Confirm and document the patient’s understanding
  • Storage of the sample (security, refrigeration, etc.)

Your patient should be provided written instructions regarding the medication. A copy of these instructions should also be included in the chart. The label on the sample medication should reflect:

  • The patient’s name
  • Name of sample medication
  • The reason for the medication
  • Date and quantity provided
  • The strength, dosage, duration, frequency and route of administration
  • Lot number
  • Expiration date
  • Precautions such as limitations and side effects
  • Provider contact information

Samples Dispensed Log

One last step to conclude your prudent distribution of sample medications is to create or update your Samples Dispensed Log. 

The Sample Dispensed Log provides a way to easily identify what patients were given which samples. This is especially useful in the case of a recall. A sample of this type of form is provided in our Online Forms Library.

For ease of use, and if you have no other electronic means, consider putting this information into an Excel spreadsheet. This will allow you to easily sort your list when necessary.

The Samples Dispensed Log should contain the following information:

  • The current date
  • Patient’s name
  • Medication
  • Dosage
  • Lot number
  • Expiration date
  • Staff initials

For additional information, you may want to read the article, Recommendations for Avoiding Medication Errors With Drug Samples.

The final part of our Sample Medication Blog Series – Appropriately Disposing of Sample Medication – will be published next week.

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