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Are there any circumstances where covert administration of drugs is acceptable?

  • Comments (3)

Are there any circumstances where covert administration of drugs is acceptable? What do you think?

The NMC Standards for Medicines Management state: “As a general principle, by disguising medication in food or drink, the patient is being led to believe they are not receiving medication, when in fact they are. The NMC would not consider this to be good practice. The registrant would need to be sure what they are doing is in the best interest of the patient, and that they are accountable for this decision”.

The issue is explored in the NMC “Advice on Covert administration of medicines: Disguising medicine in food and drink”

  • Comments (3)

Readers' comments (3)

  • The answer is of course, if the person does not have capacity and would not take life saving medication otherwise. I would make the argument that, in that situation, not to consider covert medication would be neglect of our duty of care and possibly lead to a hearing with the NMC.

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  • michael stone

    The GMC has very clearly effectively explained in some guidance, that it is a mentally capable patient who decides whethe ror not to accept any offered treatment: the patient makes the decision, and it need not be in his 'best interests'.

    I don't see how the principle can be any different for any other hcp, because it stems from the legal principle that without consent, doing things to the patient is an assault, and is therefore illegal.


    It gets very complicated for patients without capacity - but if there is no reason why the withholding of life-sustaining treatment could be defended via section 4(9) of the MCA, then as Andrew says you should attempt to preserve life.

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  • Anonymous

    In my opinion, The NMC clearly advise that nurses should not covetly administer medicines to patient in isolation. if patient with dementia refuses medication adminstration, I personally do not think it is good practice. Bearing in mind also that their capacity to consent fluctuates and needs to be assessed regularly.
    therefore the decision to covetly administer medicine to a patient with dementia should be informed and agreed by the Multi-disciplinary team invelved in their care.

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