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Do doctors have to approve supplements given by residential care homes?

In California, is there a legal requirement for a doctor to approve giving supplements by an RCFE caregiver?

I just placed my mom in a licensed home for elderly. I gave them a week's set of supplements for her laid out in a pill box with 4 sets a day x 7 days.
They stated they were required to get a doctor's OK.
Is this a true legal requirement or not?
These are supplements, not medications. Note that the FDA classifies supplements as foods, not medicine.

Status: Open    Jul 16, 2015 - 03:57 PM

Elder Law

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3 answers


Jul 19, 2015 - 12:19 PM

It is a good idea that the doctor knows all the medications and supplements that the person is taking.
While supplements are not classified as drugs some can interact with medications.
If these are supplements that your Mom needs just ask the doctor to ok the supplements.
If these are just supplements that she has been taking but does not really need is there a reason to continue them.
I take supplements but at some point is the fish oil, calcuim, or the L-lysine I take to prevent a cold sore really going to make a difference or am I just helping a company get richer? But that is my opinion on the supplement and while I will continue to take it now I will most likely at some point drop ones that really might not have that much effect on me long term.

Jul 30, 2015 - 09:58 PM

While regulations vary from one state to the next it is my experience that most every state DOES require a physicians order for any and all medication or supplements to be given to a resident in a care home or other facility. While the FDA might categorize them as 'food' the staff are still handling the 'medication management' and most state regulations do deem them a 'medication' and require a written physician's note.

Aug 03, 2015 - 03:19 PM

Yes in California everything requires a doctors order. It has to state the medication/supplement, the time to take, the route, the dose , the dates--very specific. Also supplements are NOT covered (usually) by MediCal. (or medicare). very very narrow list of things that they might be covered. probably not. The doctor can write an order for supplements. Even tylenol or other OTC also requires a doctors order. for more info look at the community care liscensing standards for elder care on
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