Sometimes medication may be required to be given 'PRN' (Latin phrase for 'pro re nata') meaning 'when required'. This medication is usually prescribed to treat short term or intermittent medical conditions and is not to be taken regularly.

If PRN medication is given regularly or is never given, a referral to the GP should be considered for a review of the service user's medication, as their medical condition may have changed, and the treatment required may need changing. Similarly, if the medication is not having the expected effects, the GP should be contacted.

Common examples of PRN medication are:

  • Laxatives for constipation
  • Pain relief
  • Inhalers for breathing difficulties

PRN medication must be added to the Support Plan and Medication Administration Record (MAR.) Medication records should clearly state the dosage given and the time it was given. Records should also show if any PRN medication has been offered. This is so that staff visiting later, are aware of what the service user has received and when it was last taken.

The support plan must include, and staff must be clear about the following:

  • Route of administration of their medication
  • What the medication has been prescribed for
  • When to give the medication (or when to ask the service user if they need it)
  • What symptoms to look out for
  • The maximum amount/dosage to be given in a day or in a single dose and the time to leave between doses if applicable
  • If the service user needs to be offered the medication at times other than the usual medication times
  • What records need to be made when support with PRN medication is given or offered

It is at the discretion of the service user when they feel their PRN medication is needed; however, administration must remain within the maximum dosage and the required time between doses.

Some PRN medicines are for use in an emergency. Where service users have specific conditions, which may give rise to the need to support with emergency medication, this must be planned in advance, documented within the support plan and individual staff training needs met in advance. The service user or their legal representative must also sign to consent to this in advance.

Further guidance

Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice | GOV.UK

Managing medicines for adults receiving social care in the community | Guidance | NICE

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