Did you know that nurses have no idea is in most medications?

  1. A lady I post with on another message board made the following statement: ""Most doctors and nurses have no idea what's in most medications, even prescription ones. That's the job of the pharamacist, who often tells me if you have a question about your medication--call ME, not the doctor. "


    I shouldn't laugh because the public is so misinformed but sometimes you have to.
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   huckfinn
    No! You shouldn't laugh...Prepare to be flamed!

    What are the ingredients of prescription medications?

    Even the pharmacist does not know.

    They may know the active ingredient but most do not know what the binder in caplets and tablets are. Folks who are allergic (ANAPHYLACTIC) to dietary substances need to know this information.


    My son was ultra allergic to milk and milk derived substances. You would be shocked at the amount of things labeled NON-DAIRY that contain casein. Did you know this is a milk derived protien? It is in darn near everything from medication tablets (a binder compound) to school glue. I didn't before my first trip to the ER. Severly allergic (not diarrhea and nausea) people cannot afford to trust their medication concerns with unknowledgable health workers like doctors and nurses. The pharmacist has the numbers of the manufacturer's line engineers. The engineers know what may be or is actually in their drugs.

    Where it is true many patients are under educated or completely uneducated about their medications, some know more about their drugs and conditions than their health providers. Just because we know something doesn't mean we know everything. There is a good chance that we could make fools of ourselves.

    p.s. The first time I took my child for follow-up after the ER visit, I used the term anaphylactic reaction to milk for the near death experience. He said, (sarcastically) "Wow! Anaphylactic is a big new word isn't it." He then read the faxed ER report with a red face. Needless to say I took my child to a different Ped from that day on.

    Signed,
    A parent (nurse) that knew more than the caregiver.
  4. by   P_RN
    I actually agree with the pharmacist knowing more. I had been taking one of the statins for quite awhile. After about 2 years the dose was increased because my cholesterol wasn't lowering enough.

    When I got the prescription filled the pharmacist at the hospital outpatient pharmacy told me to be on the outlook for any muscle pain or weakness....well duh...guess what, I had that for several months and had told the doctor about it. He passed it off as being a nurse and walking and lifting so much.....

    When I went to an internist and told him this, he checked a CPK and it was off the scale (figuratively). He stopped the med, my pain went away and I changed doctors.....It was the PHARMACIST that insisted I stay around for the "teaching." This was in 1995 before all the problems with Baycol -Iwasn't taking Baycol though. I'd heard of rhabdomyolysis with crush injuries but not meds.

    Another time re: food. My hubby is very allergic to peanuts. He found some cashew nuts in a can labeled NO PEANUTS.....guess what they were cooked in? Yep peanut oil.

    I have seen with my own eyes a nurse who said -I swear- this pill must be Inderal it's the only blue one in the drawer. I swear!!! I also stopped her BTW.
    Last edit by P_RN on Sep 26, '01
  5. by   SharonH, RN
    Originally posted by huckfinn
    No! You shouldn't laugh...Prepare to be flamed!

    What are the ingredients of prescription medications?

    Even the pharmacist does not know.

    They may know the active ingredient but most do not know what the binder in caplets and tablets are. Folks who are allergic (ANAPHYLACTIC) to dietary substances need to know this information.


    Why would you want to flame me? I am not adverse to a gentle disagreement. Wouldn't you agree that most nurses, pharmacists, etc. not knowing what the binder is in caplets and tablets are is a long way from saying that most nurses have no idea what the ingredients are in most medications? You are talking about something very specific information versus an allegation that we have no idea.

    Perhaps I should have given a little background: Another member complained that when she had chest pain, she called an advice nurse who told her to call 911 and take an aspirin. The member wanted to take an Excedrin instead but the nurse told she needed to take a plain aspirin. From there, the assumption was that the nurse didn't know that Excedrin is aspirin(which it isn't). Thus the we know nothing from the second member.


    I am not one of those arrogant nurses who think we know everything and the patients know nothing. When I said the public was misinformed I was speaking about the public's perception about the skill level of nurses not about their knowledge of meds. However I am not willing to sell myself nor my fellow nurses so short.
    Last edit by SharonMH31 on Sep 26, '01
  6. by   SharonH, RN
    Originally posted by P_RN
    I actually agree with the pharmacist knowing more

    I agree with that statement also. But I don't think it's fair to say that nurses have no idea what is in medications.
  7. by   P_RN
    Re: the Excedrin call. Was the caller saying all she had was Excedrin? Thats ASA 250 and APAP 250 w/ Caffeine 65 (I think?)

    That would be better than taking nothing I imagine. Surely she wasn't suggesting that the caller take nothing if she had no ASA? She could take maybe 2? What board was that on?

    P
  8. by   huckfinn
    The Pharm does know much and doctors and nurses know little. If the Phar didn't have the whole story on drugs, why would we need them.
    I'm not saying that doctors and nurses have a complete lack of knowledge, but let's be honest......we don't really know what is in the drugs we give. We trust the unit dose package. The pharm knows a generic is in most instances equivalent to the original formula and at other times there is a proprietary secret ingredient that makes the name brand work so much better.

    "nough said.

    By the way Sharon sorry for the flame. Sometimes I let out a little too much chain for my emotions to get tangled in.
  9. by   moonshadeau
    for the Excedrin issue. You don't want to take excedrin because of the caffeine. If you are having chest pain, chances are that your blood pressure is sky high and if you are actually having an MI you certainly don't want to vasoconstict your vessels. I wouldn't take the Excedrin if that was the only thing in the house or not. Call EMS that is why they carry ASA.
  10. by   fergus51
    Befoer i went into nursing I thought it was a bit of a no-brainer job (don't hate me I don't think that anymore ). Then my dad, who is allergic to Asprin, was prescribed Toradol by our doc and it was filled by the pharmacist. It was my neighbour the nurse who told us why my dad went into anaphylactic shock and spent 3 days in the hospital. SOOOOOOO, I agree that nurses do know a lot. I really admire all you med-surg nurses working with so many meds I can't imagine knowing them all!
  11. by   canoehead
    Why would someone allergic to ASA have a reaction to Toradol? I must have missed that class.
  12. by   debbyed
    When ever I get a call in the ER related to medications I always refer the caller to a pharmacist. Hell, I can't even keep up with all the new medications, there's no way I could give good informed information.

    When patients are discharged they are given printouts about their medication and we also use Micromedex but I still refer patients to their pharmacist to answer more indepth questions. Why not, It's who I call.
  13. by   debbyed
    It was my pharmacist who refused to fill a perscription written by my PMD for Celebrex.

    Who would have thought an anti-inflammatory medication would be related to Sulfa Medications. I have an extreme allergy to Sulfa and several other antibiotics so I am very careful about antibiotics but I would not have thought twice about taking an anti-inflammatory.

    My pharmacist very well may have saved my life that day. I guess you can figure that I now have a Primary Medical Doctor and a Primary Pharmacist. She has my business for life.
  14. by   fergus51
    Originally posted by canoehead
    Why would someone allergic to ASA have a reaction to Toradol? I must have missed that class.
    Something about being allergic to one class means you have a good chance of being allergic to another (I work L&D now, my pharmacology for normal meds is poor). We looked up Toradol in a drug book after that and it said not to prescribe it to people with allergies to asprin. The exact words were "results can be fatal" or something.

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