Medication Delivery Timeframes

A Tuesday Tip subscriber recently emailed to ask us about the common practice of giving routine medications within a two-hour “window.”  This got us thinking about what standards are out there regarding medication delivery times? While it is fairly common practice to give medications within a two-hour timeframe of the scheduled delivery time, there are very few state assisted living regulations that actually address this issue.

Fortunately, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) [LINK: www.ismp.org] offers guidance.  The ISMP is a nonprofit organization devoted entirely to medication error prevention and safe medication use. The organization is known and respected worldwide as a resource for impartial, timely, and accurate medication safety information.

The ISMP provides the following recommendations for medication delivery timeframes for “non-time-crticial scheduled” medications:

  • Daily, weekly, or monthly medications
    Administer these medications plus or minus 2 hours from the scheduled time. (Although it is generally safe to administer daily/weekly/monthly medications within a timeframe that exceeds 2 hours, ISMP recommends keeping the timeframe to 2 hours before or after the scheduled time to prevent accidental omission of doses that might be more easily forgotten if delayed more than 2 hours.)
  • Medications administered more frequently than daily but not more frequently than every 4 hours (e.g., BID, TID, q4h, q6h)
    Administer these medications plus or minus 1 hour from the scheduled time.
  • Medications administered more frequently than every 4 hours (e.g., q1h, q2h, q3h)
    Administer these medications within 25% of the dosing interval (e.g., plus or minus 15 minutes for hourly doses, plus or minus 30 minutes for every 2 hours dosing, plus or minus 45 minutes for every 3 hours dosing).

Click here for more information on these and other ISMP guidelines.

Always follow your state regulations and organizations policies and procedures.

2 Responses to “Medication Delivery Timeframes”

  1. I am renewing my RCFE Administrator Certificate this coming June, is my ARF Initial Certification considered as a CEU.

  2. Hello Serafin. Unfortunately, no, the ARF initial certification course does not provide RCFE CEUs.

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