||INTRODUCTION: There is a lack of evidence-based criteria for the discharge of patients receiving Schedule II and III narcotic medications in the emergency department. The purpose of this study was to understand nurses' perceptions about common practices in the discharge of patients receiving Schedule II and III narcotics in the emergency department in terms of dosage, time, availability of care resources at home, and other discharge criteria. METHODS: A qualitative exploratory design was used. A sample of emergency nurses was recruited from the preregistered attendees of a national conference. Two focus group sessions were held, and audiotaped in their entirety. The audiotapes were transcribed and analyzed for emerging themes by the research team. RESULTS: Identified themes were Time, Physiologic Considerations, Cognitive Considerations, Safety Considerations, Policies, Evidence, Ethical/Legal Concerns, and Nursing Impact. Participants reported drug-to-discharge times of 0 minutes (“gulp and go”) to 240 minutes after administration of Schedule II and III narcotics specifically, and “any medication” generally. The most common reason given for a wait of any kind was to assess patients for a reaction. DISCUSSION: It is the perception of our respondents that determination of readiness for discharge after a patient has received Schedule II or III narcotics in the emergency department is largely left up to nursing staff. Participants suggest that development of policies and checklists to assist in decision making related to discharge readiness would be useful for both nurses and patients.