Preparation for the OSCE: Medicines management

OSCE is the acronym for Objective Structured Clinical Examination and is a practical assessment of clinical skills which Nursing students must have achieved by the end of each academic year. The OSCE at the end of year 1 consists of three parts: Medicines management, ABCDE assessment, and Physiological measurements. In this post I will focus on the Medicines management station where students have to demonstrate clinical knowledge and skills in safe drug administration.

1) Wash your hands or tell the examiner you would wash your hands before administering any drugs


2) Identify the patient (full name and date of birth), Hospital Reg. No. and the address allow an additional check to be madeCapture

3) Check the consultant’s name as he/she is accountable for the patient’s care; Any queries should be referred to them.

4) Check if the patient is sensitive/allergic to any medications

5) Check the patient’s weight and height to prevent overdosing. Some drugs are administered according to the patient’s BMI (Body Mass Index) especially in children.

6) Check if the patient is on a special diet (normal, puréed, Nil by mouth etc.) For example, if the patient is Nil by mouth then the drug cannot be given orally but through a different route, such as IV

7) Check if the patient has  any swallowing difficulty (dysphagia) and if so then crush tablets when appropriate

8) Medication prescribed by own doctor and Medication brought into hospital are two categories which ensure that the process of medicines reconciliation takes place


9) When administering the drug always remember to check the 5 rights which are: right patient, right date & time of administration, right drug, right dose, right route

10) Check the right directions (how often should the drug be given)

11) Check if the drug has been signed by the prescriber

12) Check if the drug has not expired

13) Be aware of any contraindications, for example Digoxin should not be given if the patient’s pulse is below 60 beats/minute, or laxatives should not be given if the patient has severe diarrhoea

14) Always make use of the BNF (British National Formulary) if unsure about the drug’s contraindications, dosage or side-effects;



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