Administering methadone

Are nurses permitted to administer methadone in the hospital setting?

Yes. Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, 1996 and the associated Narcotic Control Regulation, pharmacists are permitted to provide methadone to a hospital employee or a practitioner in a hospital. Therefore, under the legislation, nurses, as employees in a hospital, are permitted to administer methadone with an order.

Are nurses permitted to administer methadone in the community setting?

Yes. An exemption under section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, 1996 permits nurses to administer methadone in the community as the ‘delegate’ of a physician.

What should nurses consider before administering methadone?

Nurses should consider whether they have the appropriate knowledge, skill and judgment to administer methadone. When administering any medication to clients, nurses are accountable for adhering to the College’s Medication practice document. Methadone is a medication that carries a certain level of inherent risk; therefore nurses must ensure that they are able to administer the medication safely, competently and manage the potential outcomes of administering it. Nurses must ensure that adequate resources are available within their practice settings to manage potential outcomes related to the administration of methadone.

In addition, nurses must be aware of legislation and/or facility policies related to the administration of methadone as some practice settings may outline certain roles, responsibilities and procedures.

Do nurses have to take a special course in order to administer methadone?

No, they don’t. However, as self-regulating professionals, nurses are accountable for determining and obtaining the knowledge, education and/or experience necessary for them to be able to safely perform any treatment or procedure with clients, including the administration of a medication.

Can nurses dispense Methadone?

Yes, nurses have access to the controlled act of dispensing. Dispensing applies to all prescribed medication. Nurses may dispense any medication, including methadone, if they have the knowledge, skill, and judgment to do so safely and according to the requirements outlined in the Medication practice standard.

Page last reviewed March 26, 2015