Accurate and careful medication dispensing and administration is crucial to the health of the animals in our care. An understanding of the entire process from dispensing to administration is essential. Administration of the medications is overseen by the Operations Manager and is performed by Senior and Master Keepers as well as Level 5 Interns. The entire process is under the direction of the Veterinarian. Below is brief overview of the process of dispensing medications, however, there is a separate and more in depth class for dispensing medications.
Administering Medication Qualifications: Green, Navy, Purple, and Level 5 Interns are eligible to administer medications. The volunteer must have completed all classes and certifications up through the end of Green Level in order to request to become a Meds Volunteer. All Coordinators are required to be trained in the Administration of meds.
Administering Supplements Qualifications: Yellow, Green, Navy and Purple Level volunteers and corresponding Intern Levels are eligible to hand out supplements. The volunteer must have completed all classes and certifications leading up to Operant Training and must be certified in Operant Training for the level of animal that they are giving supplements to.
Dispensing of medications is the process of; counting out the proper tablets, capsules, etc., placing them into individually labeled containers for each animal, updating the meds inventory, and placing the coming week’s medications in the med cabinet in food prep.
Dispensing of the medications is done by assigned staff members or senior volunteers only. Those assigned to this position must be approved by the CEO and President.
Medications are dispensed weekly or as needed when new medications are prescribed or existing medications are changed.
When preparing to dispense medications the Med Chart for each animal must be checked to ensure that the prescribed medication matches what is printed on the med label. Medications may be stopped, started, or changed at any time, so the Med Charts must always be checked prior to dispensing and administering medications.
A preprinted or manually made medication label is made for each date. This label is placed on a small container.
The proper medication is removed from the locked cabinet in the hospital and dispensed into the labeled container.
The amount of each medication used is logged onto the monthly BCR Meds Inventory sheet. This spreadsheet is updated monthly and is used to track inventory and expiration dates.
The containers containing the medications are organized by day and separated into AM and PM drawers for each day. These stacking storage drawers are located in the locked meds cabinet in Food Prep.
The Med Charts are located on the BigCatRescue.me site under the heading Observations at the link titled Med Charts or on the Vet Care site link at the bottom left of the BigCatRescue.me site.
Each animal has its own tab on the Med Chart. Each tab includes the animal’s name, species type, ailment, medication and dosage and special instructions if needed.
Each medication and date and/or time period the medication is to be administered is indicated on the Med Chart.
Medications are administered daily. Once, twice, or in some cases multiple times a day.
Administration of the medications is the process of preparing the medication in an appropriate food item and giving the medication to the animal, observing the animal consuming the medication and charting the results on the animal’s Med Chart.
All medications should be prepared, administered, observed and charted by one person and not divided up between people to perform these tasks. With the exception of training.
AM Meds should be prepared and administered prior to feeding routes going out in the mornings at approximately 7 AM. PM Meds should be prepared and administered in late afternoon at approximately 4 PM.
Prior to preparing the medications check with the coordinator for any changes regarding the medications or animals recently prescribed medications.
Meds may be accessed by coordinators or staff members with a key to the med cabinet in Food Prep.
Medications should be prepared just before administration. Medications should not be prepared in food in advance (including additives such as lactulose, powdered supplements, or oils). Putting these additives on the food in advance will spoil the flavor of the meat which may make it taste bad to the animal. Putting the additives on fresh food right before giving to the animal will have better results. Pills put into pieces of meat in advance will start to break down and become soggy inside the meat. Many coated pills or capsules contain medication that is bitter. Putting the pills in the meat right before giving to the animal will ensure the pill is intact and the flavor is disguised.
Gloves should always be worn when handling medications. Some medications can be absorbed through the skin. The oils from your hands can also break down the coating or capsule of the pill.
To prepare meds select a type of meat that the individual animal likes best and cut a small piece just big enough for the med to fit inside.
The best food choices for each animal are taught during the observation process. Updated food choices are also shared among the volunteers and staff assigned to administer medications via the Workplace Meds Group.
There are a variety of meats available to use for medications including; beef, chicken, pork, fish, liver, lamb, chicks etc.
If you use the last of a special meat while prepping your meds please pull another packet of that meat from the freezer and put in the cooler on the meds meat shelf.
Cut a small hole into the meat and insert the pill. If the piece of meat is too big the animal will chew the meat and likely bite into the pill. This can result in the refusal to consume the medication.
Thawed chicks can be used as they disguise pills very well. The pill should be pushed all the way down into the chick’s mouth until it is lodged in the throat.
Liquid medications can be injected into pieces of meat or mixed with ground meat. Chicks should not be used for liquid medications unless absolutely necessary (mostly with rehab bobcats) because when the animal eats the chick and pierces the abdomen a yellow liquid gushes out in turn most of the liquid medication may be lost.
As each medication is prepared the meat or chick containing the medication should be placed back inside the label container for each animal. This will keep all of the medications separate and avoid confusion. Some medications are break down very quickly. Fresh meat should be taken on the meds route so these medications can be added just before giving to the animal.
Once all of the meds are prepared the person administering medications is ready to begin their meds route and should take with them the following supplies; prepared medications housed in their own individual labeled container, operant sticks of varying lengths (long sticks for fussy animals), extra meat treats should an animal chew the pill out or refuse the offered meat, tongs to retrieve refused meat or chewed out pills, small knife, and a golf cart.
The person administering meds should not be performing any other duties at the same time for example; coordinating, shutting lockouts, operant conditioning, feeding cats that get PM meals (unless their meal must be given with their medications) etc. The entire focus should be on the task at hand to avoid mistakes.
The animal must be directly observed fully consuming the food that contains the medication. If the medication is not consumed another food should be chosen to put the medication into.
The animal must consume their medication before being fed any other foods.
Medications should never be administered to the animals and then left unattended. Animals may take and hide the food containing the medication or another animal may take the food. Either way there is no guarantee the medication was consumed.
Some animals may not want to take their medication on occasion. In these cases, creativity must be utilized including; basting the chick or red meat that houses the medication with blood or housing the medication in alternative foods such as hearts, livers, chicken, or other meat that the animal favors. The person administering the medications should try multiple ways to get the animal to take their medication.
If the medication is not consumed, the medication should be retrieved and the person should report the case to the Operations Manager or Coordinator on duty for further instruction.
If after several attempts an animal outright refuses to eat a medication this should be noted on the Meds Chart using the initials RF in red.
The empty labeled containers should be brought back to Food Prep to use as a reference when filling out the daily Med Charts.
Med Charts must be filled out by the person that administered the medications immediately. The volunteer must initial the Med Chart for each animal next to the appropriate medication time AM or PM. These charts are considered veterinary records and subject to inspection by regulatory agencies at any time.
Some animals require daily supplements.
Some supplements such as Lactulose and Forta Flora are given to the animals by the assigned meds volunteer while other supplements such as Azodyl, Epakitin and Cosequin are given to the animals by an assigned volunteer that is operant certified in the level of animal for which the supplement is for.
Both medications and supplements are tracked using the Meds Chart.
Only meds volunteers have access to this chart and those individuals are required to fill in the initials of the volunteer who administered the supplements during their meds shift.
All previously described instructions for administering medications apply to administering supplements.
There are two meds and two supplements shifts per day AM and PM. Volunteers must schedule themselves on the calendar by signing up for these shifts in advance. If no one signs up for a shift the Operations Manager or Coordinator will assign an appropriately certified volunteer to fill the opening.
The Coordinators, Veterinarians, and approved Staff members have access to the med cabinet in Food Prep.
The Volunteers and Staff that are permitted to administer medications are listed at the bottom of each Med Chart. To ensure quality and consistency only a small number of Volunteers and Staff will be assigned to administering medications.
Prednisone: Animals prescribed Prednisone should not be fasted. Prednisone can be harsh on the stomach. If the animals are being fasted prior to a de-worming day, animals who receive prednisone should still be given a small meal.