Medications: When should they be centrally stored?

Understanding Medications Within RCFEs

There is not a specific regulation stating that RCFEs must centrally store all resident medications. 

According to Title 22 (§87465), "medications shall be centrally stored under the following circumstances: 

1)   Any medication is determined by the physician to be hazardous if kept in the personal possession of the person for whom the medication is prescribed.

2) The medication requires refrigeration and the resident has no private refrigerator.  Such medication may not be stored in the kitchen refrigerator.  It must be kept in a safe and locked refrigerator that is not accessible to persons other than employees responsible for the supervision of centrally stored medication.

3)  A physician, the administrator, or CCLD determines that because of potential dangers related to the medication itself, or due to the physical arrangements of the facility and the condition or the habits of other persons in the facility the medication must be centrally stored to ensure the safety of residents.

4)  If a facility does centrally store its medication, the following requirements shall be actively in place:

a) The medications are kept in a safe and locked place that is not accessible to persons other than employees responsible for the supervision of centrally stored medication. 

b) Each and every container shall be maintained in compliance with state and federal laws, be labeled and carry all of the following information:

  • The name of the resident for whom it is prescribed.

  • The name of the prescribing physician (While not required, the physician's phone number is not a bad idea).

  • The name, strength, and quantity of the drug.

  • The date filled.

  • The prescription number and the name of the issuing pharmacy.

  • The instructions, if any, regarding control and custody of the medication.

  • The expiration date and number of refills.

c) Each resident's medications shall be stored in its originally-received container.  No medications shall be transferred between containers, and no persons other than the dispensing pharmacist shall alter a prescription label." 

(Please note that while most bottles issued by a pharmacy currently will have all of the above information printed on the label, CARR is informing you of these details should you encounter issues with storage and labeling of medications.)

To verify that all of these safeguards are in place at the facility you are considering, consumers can inquire about the following:

  • Their policy and procedures regarding medications/centrally stored medications;

  • Ask to see their storage units;

  • Possibly ask to preview a sample of their record keeping; (FYI:They might need to redact confidential information prior to your review)

  • Ask about the training and experience of those responsible for administering medications.

  • Review the facility's file for cited deficiencies, or grievances regarding medications (LIC 809s and/or LIC 9099s)

  • And most importantly, follow-up on all of these items consistently while in residence at a facility.  Consider it a good way to avoid the possibility of a medication error.

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