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SURVEY: Medication Aides Administer Medications in Two-Thirds of States

February 14, 2013

Survey results appearing in the current issue of Geriatric Nursing provide helpful data to inform the conversation about direct-care workers assuming advanced roles as part of health care teams.

Researchers conducted a nationwide survey of 3,455 “medication aides,” or direct-care workers who administer medications.

They found that in 2009, medication aides administered some medications in more than two-thirds (67 percent) of states. Most (68 percent) were required to be certified nursing assistants as a prerequisite to being a medication aide.

The median number of total training hours for medication aides was 56.

A significant percentage of respondents reported having no supervision (8 percent overall; 21 percent in non-institutional long-term care) or having a supervisor who was never on site (19 percent overall; 41 percent in non-institutional long-term care).

The journal article, “A National Survey of Medication Aides: Education, Supervision and Work Role by Work Setting,” by Jill S. Budden, Ph.D., research associate at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, finds evidence that medication aides can administer medications safely if free from distractions and other responsibilities.

The study also found that “a disparity exists between regulation and practice in many nursing homes, long-term care, and other institutions. Medication aides reported being required to take on responsibilities beyond their defined role.”

— by Gail MacInnes, PHI National Policy Analyst

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