Registered nurses and midwives are authorised (under the regulations) to possess scheduled medicines for administration to specific patients under their care in accordance with the lawful instructions and authorisation of a registered health practitioner who is authorised to prescribe or supply the medicine. Regulations 96 and 97 contain details of the form of instructions which may authorise a nurse or midwife to administer medications to a patient.
- In addition to the circumstances under which nurses and midwives are commonly authorised to administer scheduled medicines, nurses and midwives are authorised to assist a patient in the administration of scheduled medicines that have been lawfully supplied to that patient (e.g. on prescription) in the same manner as another carer who is not a nurse or midwife.
- In addition to regulatory requirements with which nurses and midwives are generally familiar, it is possible that other requirements may exist that depend on the circumstances of employment, especially the conditions of a Health Services Permit that has been issued to an employer.
Clarification of terms
'Administer' and 'use' mean to personally introduce a medicine to a person’s body (or personally observe its introduction).
'Supply' means to provide a medicine for a person to administer or use at a later time.
Nurses and midwives are not authorised to supply
Nurses and midwives are not authorised to supply scheduled medicines except in accordance with additional qualifications and approvals that are authorised under the Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 and/or Regulations. Examples are referred to elsewhere on this page.
This website contains a range of documents, in the section for , which summarise the legislative requirements and issues that relate to each type of registered health practitioner and that relate to multiple categories of health practitioner. The following documents provide an overview of the legislative requirements that relate to nurses and midwives plus nurse practitioners.
The following documents, in the section headed ‘Matters that relate to many health practitioners’ contain requirements that are common to multiple categories of health practitioner:
- Possession and storage: including regulatory requirements and matters to be notified to authorities
- Supply, administration and records: including software and recording requirements, destruction of Schedule 8 poisons and labelling requirements for dispensed medicines
- Prescribing: including regulatory requirements for issuing prescriptions, writing chart instructions, authorising administration and providing verbal instructions in an emergency
- Handwritten and computer-generated prescriptions: including details of mandatory components of prescriptions
- All reasonable steps and other key terms: including an explanation of the meaning and application of the subjective term 'all reasonable steps', which appears in many regulations, and how it might be applied to certain situations
Nurse practitioners and other registration endorsements
Nurses and midwives, whose registration is endorsed under Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (s. 94 or s. 95), may be authorised (under the Act) to possess, supply, administer (and possibly prescribe) scheduled medicines in the lawful practice of their profession. Details of nurse registration endorsements can be obtained from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.
The Minister for Health approved for a nurse practitioner or a class of nurse practitioner authorised under section 13(1)(ba) of the Act to use, sell or supply any Schedule 2, 3, 4 and 8 poison or class of Schedule 2, 3, 4 and 8 poison in the lawful practice of his or her profession as a nurse practitioner, by notice published in the page 1428.
Approved by the Secretary
The Secretary of the Department has also approved the possession and administration of specific medicines, by suitably trained nurses and midwives, in specified circumstances or in accordance with the conditions of a Health Services Permit of an employer.
Rural and isolated practice registered nurses
Reviewed 13 September 2023