The leaflet is detailed below, or you can download the 'Self-Administration of Medicines' leaflet in PDF.
What Is Self-Medication?
Often when you are admitted to hospital, the nurse or midwife looking after you would take responsibility for giving you any medicines that you needed, including any medicines that you were taking at home before coming in to hospital. Self-medication is a scheme that allows you to take responsibility for your medicines whilst you are in hospital and take these medicines without a nurse or midwife being present.
Can Anyone Self-Medicate?
Our aim is to allow any patient who wants to self-medicate to do so. However, we have to know that you are safe whilst you are in hospital with us. One of the nurses or midwives on your ward will do a quick assessment to check that they are happy for you to look after your own medicines whilst you are in hospital. Some people may not be able to self-medicate, for example, if they are particularly unwell or there have been lots of changes to their medicines whilst they are in hospital. The nurse or midwife looking after you will be to explain whether you can self-medicate whilst you are in hospital.
What Will Happen If I Don’t Want To Self-Medicate?
Your medicines will be stored safely whilst you are in the hospital. The nurse or midwife looking after you will give you your medicines when they are due.
What Happens If I Do Want To Self-Medicate?
If the nurse or midwife looking after you agrees that you can self-medicate, they will ask you to place your medicines in a special medication locker next to your bed. You will then be asked to set a 4 digit combination code that will let you open the locker, a bit like a hotel safe. We will need to look at any medicines that you have brought in from home to make sure that they are in good condition and labelled properly.
What Happens If I Forget My Combination Code?
The nurse or midwife looking after you has a master code. They will be able to open your locker and let you reset the code. Try and use a memorable number as your combination code to avoid forgetting it.
What If I Don’t Have Enough Of My Own Medicines Or I Am Started On Something New?
If you have more of your own medicines, you should try and get somebody to bring them in to hospital for you. If you don’t have any more or no-one can get them, the hospital pharmacy will supply you with more.
If you are started on something new, you must make sure that somebody has explained what the new medicine is for and how you should take it before you start taking it.
Some new medicines will always be given to you by the nurse or midwife looking after you, for example any antibiotics given by injection.
What If I Become Unwell Or Need To Have An Anaesthetic?
If you become unwell, the nurse or midwife will reassess you to see whether they think it is safe for you to carry on looking after your medicines. If they decide it is not safe, you will not be able to access your medicine locker anymore. The nurse or midwife will come and give you your medicines when they are due.
If you need a general anaesthetic or you are given patient-controlled analgesia (a machine which allows you to press a button to get a dose of a strong painkiller by a drip when you need it), it is likely that you won’t be able to self-medicate for about a day after.
How Can I Be Sure That This Is Safe?
Make sure that you keep your medicines locked in the special medicine locker.
Do NOT Share Your Combination Code with Anybody Else. The nurses, midwives and pharmacy staff have a master code to all the lockers, so staff members will not ask you to tell them your code.
Never take more than the dose on the label of the medicine. If you take too much of a medicine or take the wrong medicine, let the nurse or midwife looking after you know straight away.
Never share your medicines with anyone else. If anyone else tries to open your locker or take any of your medicines, you should let one of the nurses or midwives know immediately.
What Happens When I Go Home?
The doctor looking after you will write a prescription for any medicines that you need to take home. You will be given any medicines that you brought in from home back. A nurse, midwife or someone from pharmacy will go through any new medicines to make sure you know what you are meant to take. If you have any questions, do ask the nurse, midwife, doctor or pharmacist.