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Can an LPN dispense Suboxone, a medication that needs close monitoring for a few hours after the initial dose is given?

Wednesday September 19, 2012
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Dear Nancy,

Can an LPN dispense Suboxone? It is a medication that needs close monitoring and patient assessment for a few hours after the initial dose is given.


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Francine,

Your question does not contain many details concerning where the administration of Suboxone (not dispensing it), would take place (e.g., in an acute care setting, in an out-patient clinic) — how long the patient had been on Suboxone, if this were the first dose, and other clinical issues and concerns that might result in a different response. Generally speaking, your state nurse practice act and its rules would be a good place to start for an answer to your question. Also important to consider, is whether there are any state laws that prohibit this medication from being administered by anyone other than an RN, an APN or a physician.

A third excellent resource to review for general information on this topic is the following publication: “Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Buprenorphine: A Guide For Nurses.” 2009. DHHS Publ. No. (SMA) 09-4376. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. You can download the guide from The National Alliance of Advocates For Buprenorphine Treatment at www.naabt.org/newsletter/sep2009. (Accessed September 18, 2012).


Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.