Medicine reuse allowed in care homes in Pandemic emergency

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and NHS Improvement have published guidance on running a medicines re-use scheme in a care home or hospice setting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guidance/standard operating procedure (SOP) is intended to support timely access to essential prescribed medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic for patients who are being cared for in a care home or hospice setting in England.

Care homes should note that under usual circumstances, the re-use or recycling of another patient’s medicine is not recommended by DHSC.

If a medicines re-use scheme is put in place, a care home or hospice must carry out a risk assessment for each potential re-use of a medicine. Three key indicators should inform the risk assessment and the subsequent decision on whether or not to re-use a medicine:

  1. No other stocks of the medicine are available in an appropriate timeframe (as informed by the supplying pharmacy) and there is an immediate patient need for the medicine;
  2. No suitable alternatives for an individual patient are available in a timely manner, i.e. a new prescription cannot be issued, and the medicine(s) supplied against it in the conventional manner quickly enough; and
  3. The benefits of using a medicine that is no longer needed by the person for whom it was originally prescribed or bought, outweigh any risks for an individual patient receiving that unused medicine.

The document sets out criteria against which a medicine must be checked by a registered healthcare professional to determine whether it is suitable for re-use.

Law firm Gordons Partnership has also produced this briefing.  

Pharmacy representative the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has set out the support care homes may expect from their pharmacy supplier, including checks for medicine re-use suitability.

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