Rates of PRN Medication Administration in Australian Residential Aged Care

Leonie Picton, Jenni Ilomäki, Claire S. Keen, Samanta Lalic, Beverly Adams, Lisa M. Clinnick, Carl M. Kirkpatrick, Taliesin Ryan-Atwood, Justin P. Turner, J. Simon Bell

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Objective: To investigate administration of pro re nata (PRN) medications and nurse-initiated medications (NIMs) in Australian aged care services over a 12-month period. 

Design: Twelve-month longitudinal audit of medication administrations. Setting and participants: Three hundred ninety-two residents of 10 aged care services in regional Victoria, Australia. 

Methods: Records of PRN and NIM administration were extracted from electronic and hard copy medication charts. Descriptive statistics were used to calculate medication administration per person-month. Poisson regression was used to estimate predictors of PRN administration. 

Results: Over a median follow-up of 12 months (interquartile range 10–12 months), 93% of residents were administered a PRN medication and 41% of residents an NIM on 21,147 and 552 occasions, respectively. The mean number of any PRN administration was 5.85 per person-month. The most frequently administered PRN medications per person-month were opioids 1.54, laxatives 0.96, benzodiazepines 0.72, antipsychotics 0.48, paracetamol 0.46, and topical preparations 0.42. Three-quarters of residents prescribed a PRN opioid or PRN benzodiazepine and two-thirds of residents prescribed a PRN antipsychotic had the medication administered on 1 or more occasions over the follow-up. 

Conclusions and Implications: Most residents were administered PRN medications. Administration was in line with Australian regulations and institutional protocols. However, the high frequency of PRN analgesic, laxative, and psychotropic medication administration highlights the need for regular clinical review to ensure ongoing safe and appropriate use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-123.E1
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Aged care
  • longitudinal
  • nurse-initiated medication
  • nursing
  • PRN
  • pro re nata

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