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Medication Inventory Management

Under the Nurses (Registered) and Nurse Practitioners Regulation, nurses have authority to compound, dispense and administer medications.

Practice Standards set out requirements related to specific aspects of nurses' practice. They link with other standards, policies and bylaws of the BC College of Nursing Professionals and all legislation relevant to nursing practice.

Under the Nurses (Registered) and Nurse Practitioners Regulation, nurses1 have authority to compound, dispense and administer medications.

Nurses may also have responsibility for managing a medication inventory in their health care organization. In some cases, the medication inventory is large and varied (for example, in remote practice) while in other cases, it is small and specialized (e.g., in a diabetic clinic).

Medication inventory management is required to promote the provision of quality medication products and services to clients. This function is only carried out by nurses when a pharmacist is not responsible for managing the medication inventory. This practice standard outlines requirements for nurses who manage a medication inventory.

Employers are responsible for providing the organizational supports necessary for the safe management of medications. Nurses collaborate with their employer to arrange for the necessary infrastructure, including quality assurance mechanisms, equipment and supplies.


1. Nurses manage the medication inventory using systems that meet clients' needs, fulfill federal and provincial legal requirements, maximize security, and minimize practice errors, omissions and unsafe practices. They
a. arrange the medication inventory in a systematic manner;
b. store medications as directed on the manufacturer's label;
c. check for expired medication products at least once a month and remove expired medication from the active medication inventory;
d. do not return previously dispensed medications to the medication inventory or reuse them for another client;
e. employ environmentally safe medication disposal methods;


use appropriate measures to keep the medication inventory secure; and

g. keep medication inventory records that are current, accurate and meet legal requirements.
2. Nurses use references that are relevant, accurate and current.
3. Nurses identify and report practice errors, omissions and unsafe practices related to medication inventory and records management.
4. Nurses identify and refer infrastructure, equipment and supply needs and deficiencies to the appropriate person, department or agency for remediation.


Compound: To mix a drug with one or more other ingredients for the purposes of dispensing or administering the drug.

Dispense: The preparation and transfer of a medication to a client, taking steps to ensure its pharmaceutical and therapeutic suitability and its proper use. Nurses can accept payment on behalf of their employer for a medication they dispense.

For more information

BCCNP's Standards of Practice (Professional Standards, Practice Standards, Scope of Practice Standards) assist you in understanding important issues regarding nursing practice.

BCCNP resources

Available from the Nursing Standards section

Other resources



  • Food and Drugs Act and related regulations
  • Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and related regulations
  • Health Canada – Western Operational Centre


1 "Nurse" refers to the following BCCNP registrants: registered nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed graduate nurses.

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