The 5 Rights of Medication Administration

So what are the 5 rights?

First, remember that all patients should be treated equally.

All patients are entitled to receive safe and appropriate nursing care. Patients are entitled to receive care from a competent and knowledgeable nurse.

Competent and safe care includes receiving the correct medications.

The 5 rights of medication administration:

  • the right patient
  • the right drug
  • the right dose
  • the right route
  • the right time

A little research has shown that this list have grown over the years to as many as eight depending on the source. The list now includes:

  • the right to know information about the drug
  • the right to refuse the drug
  • the right documentation

Always Follow the 5 Rights


It is important to follow the rights of patient medication administration (now 8 rights) to keep your patient safe and prevent harm. Nursing medication errors can happen and by following these rights you can help to avoid these errors.

It is important for every nurse to be knowledgeable about the medication being given to the patient. It is not possible for every nurse to know the drug facts on every drug. To be a safe and competent nurse it is important to look up drug information that you are unfamiliar with before you give the medication to the patient. The patient has the right to information on the medication, the right to receive the correct medication, and the right to have a nurse knowledgeable in the medication they are providing.

By looking up information before giving the medication you are confirming the patient is receiving an appropriate drug at the appropriate dose and any anticipated side effects. If the dosing calculations do not apply to the patient (such as a pediatric patient dosing as an adult) call the physician to clarify. As a nurse if you give the medication to the patient in the incorrect dose you can be held responsible for any adverse reactions even if you followed the doctors order.

There are many published nursing drug guides and online resources to obtain this information. 


Follow these guidelines for medication administration every time you pass out your patient medications to show that you are a knowledgeable and caring nurse. By attempting to avoid medication errors you are putting your patient's safety first and patient safety is a top priority in nursing.


Medication error education

There is an excellent article on American Nurse Today by Pamela Anderson called Medication errors: Don't let them happen to you. This is a great article, I highly recommend everyone read the free article. 

Pamela Anderson and Terri Townsend have another great article on American Nurse Today: Preventing high-alert medication errors in hospital patients.   This article is available for FREE online reading and does offer 1.1 nursing ceu's for purchase if desired.

I strongly believe in nurses as patient advocates and empowering our patients to be their own advocates is an important piece.  Check out this great article by Amy Karch also published on American Nurse Today : Preventing medication errors by empowering patients.  It is a great read and does offer 1.07 ceu's for purchase but it is FREE to read.

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5 Rights of Medication Administration