Secondary dispensing is when a family member, carers and/or representatives of the service user removes medication from its original packaging and puts it into pots or compliance aids, to be taken later. It is rare and in exceptional circumstances only, that providers staff support service users with this method of dispensing. *

Secondary dispensing may be helpful for service users who are able to take their own medication via this method. However, where staff are supporting service users, this process removes vital safety checks and increases risks of medication errors being made.

When dispensing medication, the pharmacist must include the following information on the medicine label:

  • name of the person the medicine is prescribed for
  • name of the medicine and strength
  • dose, (that is the number of tablets, capsules, or volume of liquid)
  • frequency, (that is how often to take the dose)
  • any special instructions, for example, 'take with food'
  • quantity supplied
  • date the medicine was dispensed
  • expiry date

Secondary dispensing means that the vital safety information above is not provided for the staff to check. It is also more difficult to accurately complete a Medication Record Sheet (MAR).

For these reasons it is NOT routinely recommended that providers support service users with this method of dispensing.

*An example of a previously rare and exceptional circumstance was when secondary dispensing was deemed appropriate when the daughter who filled the privately bought compliance aid was a qualified pharmacist and signed up to a risk assessment.

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