Essential Oils, A Medication?

by Expert Advice

Essential Oils, A Medication?

by Expert Advice

by Expert Advice

Are essential oils used for aroma therapy considered a medication by TJC? An FAQ in the Medication Management chapter provides what we view as an unusual response relative to the question.

Are Essential Oils A Medication?

TJC states that the FDA relies on the “intended use” to determine if it is a medication. For example, the FDA considers it a drug if the intended purpose is therapeutic. Our understanding of the FDA’s position is that if the manufacturer wants to market and label a product for specific therapeutic purposes, then it is a drug.

The FAQ implies the following. If the hospital or treatment team intends to use an essential oil not considered a drug by the FDA, for therapeutic purposes, then it is a drug. Given the new pain management standards which encourage the use of non-pharmacologic treatment for pain, this in important. In fact, some organizations use aroma therapy as one approach to their pain management care plans. But if TJC considers it a drug, it is no longer non pharmacologic, and it requires a physician order.

Hopefully there will be additional details forthcoming from TJC on this issue.

Patton Healthcare Consulting

Patton Healthcare Consulting provides Joint Commission and CMS Compliance Assistance and a full range of pre-survey and post survey services.

We serve more than 200 hospitals, behavioral health care organizations, ambulatory clinics and home care companies nationwide—hospitals ranging from critical access hospitals to the largest health systems. Contact us at (888) PHC-INC1 for more information.

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