What emergency drugs should I have available?

29th March 2021

What emergency drugs should I have available?

What emergency drugs should I have available?

This is covered in the CQC Mythbuster number 4.

Practices should consider where a patient presenting with an emergency condition would be managed. They should make sure this place would be appropriate. Drugs in the practice to help manage medical emergencies should be held in safe and appropriate storage conditions. This list is based on current practice. It is modified from two Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletins in 2015, and stakeholder engagement with medical directors of several GP practices.

This is not intended to be either exhaustive or mandatory. The final decision needs to be taken in context so choices/omissions can be professionally justifiable, and risk assessed.


Recommended practice

Practices should ensure they have emergency medicines and equipment to keep patients safe.

Professional guidelines: NICE: Prescribing in dental practice (Medical emergencies in dental practice)

These should be available to manage common medical emergencies:

  • adrenaline/epinephrine injection, adrenaline 1 in 1000, (adrenaline 1 mg/mL as acid tartrate), 1 mL amps
  • aspirin dispersible tablets 300 mg
  • glucagon injection, glucagon (as hydrochloride),  1 - unit vial (with solvent)
  • glucose (for administration by mouth)
  • glyceryl trinitrate spray
  • A fast action onset benzodiazepine drug  oromucosal solution
  • oxygen
  • salbutamol aerosol inhalation, salbutamol 100 micrograms/metered inhalation.

Professional guidelines: Resuscitation Council UK quality standards for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and training

This is the minimum equipment recommended:

  • adhesive defibrillator pads
  • automated external defibrillator (AED)
  • clear face masks for self-inflating bag (sizes 0,1,2,3,4)
  • oropharyngeal airways sizes 0,1,2,3,4
  • oxygen cylinder
  • oxygen masks with reservoir
  • oxygen tubing
  • pocket mask with oxygen port
  • portable suction, for example Yankauer
  • protective equipment – gloves, aprons, eye protection
  • razor
  • scissors
  • self-inflating bag with reservoir (adult)
  • self-inflating bag with reservoir (child)
  • if there are ampules in the medical emergency drugs kit, there must be adequate numbers of suitable needles and syringes.

Oxygen cylinders should be easily portable but also allow adequate flow rates, for example 15 litres per minute for up to 30 minutes or until an ambulance arrives, or the patient fully recovers. Consider what size of cylinder to use and whether you need a second one in case the first is at risk of running out.


Quality Assurance Process: At least every week, check:

  • expiry dates for emergency medicines
  • equipment and availability of oxygen.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

What would you like to ask Tracy?

Tracy has worked in general practice management for over 13 years with a passion for turning around vulnerable or struggling practices and making a difference to patients. Tracy has been a Care Quality Commission (CQC) Practice Manager Specialist Adviser since 2014 along with being a peer appraiser, national trainer, dementia friend champion and a trustee board member with her local Healthwatch.

Tracy also worked nationally for 18 months as the General Practice Development and Primary Care Network (PCN) Lead supporting practices, PCNs and federations.

Tracy is a chartered fellow with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and a fellow with the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) holding postgraduate qualifications in strategic leadership.

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