Where applicable, you should always check with the nurse in charge or unit manager on arrival at your new assignment. When administering medicines, you should make sure that you:

  • Know the medicine’s use, normal dosage, side effects, precautions and contra-indications
  • Are certain of the identity of the Service in question and their care plan
  • Check the expiry date of the medicine to be administered
  • Consider the medicine/administration in question in the content of any other medication concurrently administered
  • Check the service user is not allergic to the medicine before administration
  • Notify without delay to the nurse in charge or authorised prescriber in the case of contraindications or reactions to the medicine or where the medicine is no longer suitable
  • Record in writing with a legible signature any administration or refusal of medication or delegation of the task of administration or any other untoward occurrence on the patient’s care plan, treatment sheet or other such document which is custom and practice within that placement.
  • Student nurse/midwives’ signature should be clearly countersigned by the administration supervisor
  • If an agency worker is concerned regarding a service user’s health or medication, this should be recorded and reported to the nurse in charge


In accordance with the NMC Code of Professional Conduct, you must obtain the consent of a service user before giving any treatment or care. Consent must be:

  • Given by a legally competent person
  • Given voluntarily
  • Informed

Service user/clients are assumed to be legally competent (that is, they can understand and retain treatment information and use it to make an informed choice) unless otherwise assessed by a suitably qualified practitioner.

An exception to this rule is in an emergency where a treatment is necessary to preserve life and the service user/client is unable to give consent. In all cases, you must be able to demonstrate that you are acting in the best interests of the service user.

If a service user is no longer legally competent, decisions should be based on previous consent/ non consent in a similar situation (providing there is no reason to believe they have changed their mind) or their known wishes. Otherwise treatment should be in their best interest.

In the case of children (those aged under 16 in England and Wales), the involvement of those with parental responsibility is usually necessary - you should be aware of legislation and local protocol.

It is not usually acceptable to seek consent for a procedure which you will not be performing yourself unless you have been specifically trained for that area of practice.

Drug and medication errors

You must report any mistake you make or identify or any drug or medication incidents to your nurse in charge/line manager immediately. We may have to carry out a formal investigation of the incident, in which case it is possible you will not be able to work with that or other clients in the meantime.

We may also require a written statement from you regarding the event. If the error is identified as sufficiently serious after a full investigation we may ultimately need to report it to the NMC and/or we may have to permanently cease to offer you work.