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Is it within the scope of practice in any state for a hospice nurse to transport narcotics from a pharmacy to a patientís home?

Monday January 7, 2013
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

Is it within the scope of practice in any state for a hospice nurse to transport narcotics from a pharmacy to a patientís home? I have asked two different pharmacists, and they both said it was ok for a nurse to do this. What is your opinion?

Terralyn



Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Terralyn,

As you know, the regulation of controlled substances, including how they are stored, is governed by several federal laws, including the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the Controlled Substance Act. Also, state laws may have additional governing requirements.

One of the most important issues surrounding controlled substances is their storage and the maintenance of the security of the drug. Whether transporting controlled substances in a nurse employee's car is consistent with the requirements of the laws in this regard is something you need to be concerned about, as do your hospice employer and the pharmacists.

You should consult with a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who practices in the area of regulatory law and can advise you what your obligations are under the applicable federal and state laws. It may be that the stateís pharmacy act or the Controlled Substance Act allow such an arrangement. If so, it is certain there are specific requirements that must be adhered to when the transportation occurs, such as required documentation, security of the drugs during transport and in the home, and specific orders from the appropriate healthcare provider.

Regards,
Nancy




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.