Patient asked me what an IV med was for..i didnt know - page 2

by NursingBro

6,536 Views | 54 Comments

I am a new grad LVN and a IV med was scheduled for a patient. The patient asked me what is the IV med for and I did not know. She also asked why does she need to have this? and Do you know why she has it? She kept bombarding... Read More


  1. 1
    I've been an Lpn for 21 years and been aloud to hang and start an Iv for 12 years now. I work in New Jersey and I'm Iv certified. I can maintain all lines,hang Iv antibiotic and other meds. I can start a peripheral line too. I would think being a new Lpn that was taught in school, being our scope of practice is now more broad. And always look up all meds you are unsure of!! If you were my nurse I would of felt you were incompetent. And I'm sure she felt the same way being she asked your name. I still look up meds I'm unsure of. Doesn't make you a stupid nurse, just a cautious one!! Best of luck!!
    Fiona59 likes this.
  2. 5
    Geeesh...aren't you glad you asked. Why would any new nurse ask any seasoned nurse a question if they are going to get torn a new one...new grads need to know that they can approach seasoned nurses otherwise you are going to see them do things without asking...shame shame :/
    The CORRECT answer is let me get the nurse in charge to answer any and all of your questions. If an RN were in that situation, she could say I will get the doctor to explain your meds to you. NOBODY knows everything and NOBODY likes a know it all.....ughhhh....
    ethiopia, jrwest, psu_213, and 2 others like this.
  3. 3
    You are the primary nurse so you should know all meds your pt is on and why. The fact that you are not permitted to give IV meds is irrelevant. If you are unsure, state so and tell the pt you will find out for them. I as a RN still look up meds I am unfamiliar with. Please don't read the book to your pts, you read it and explain it to them in terms they can understand. If you have EMAR's, you should be able to look up any drug your pt is on with a click of your mouse.

    Happy learning
    tnmarie, mrnightinggale, and Fiona59 like this.
  4. 2
    Quote from NursingBro
    I am a new grad LVN and a IV med was scheduled for a patient. The patient asked me what is the IV med for and I did not know. She also asked why does she need to have this? and Do you know why she has it?

    She kept bombarding me with questions I did not know because as an LVn I am not even allowed to give IV meds at my hospital.

    She asked for my name so I am sure she will report me. After this I told her i would look up the med and I did. I read exactly what is was from my drug book.


    Next time this happens I want to be better prepared with good answers. What is the most professional way to say I do not know.?
    I'm not jumping all over you, because you care enough to come here and ask! The answer to the question depends on whether it's something you should know. I think you now realize you should know all of your patient's meds whether you are actually responsible for the administration of the IV med or not.

    Then assess what the patient's knowledge deficit is. In this particular case it seems to be a large deficit, indicating that her doctor may not have, or not adequately explained his or her plan of treatment, and would indicate that either the RN or MD needs to address that issue. If the patient asks when the next dose is due, and you say, "let me check" that's fine. If they ask what time the volunteer is going to bring the magazine cart around, saying "I don't know" is perfectly acceptable, and you can offer to find out for them.

    It's not a matter of how you say it, it's a matter of appropriately responding to the content of the question. Hope that makes sense!
    Esme12 and M/B-RN like this.
  5. 0
    You can always pull this old trick " Oh,they are calling for me,I'll be right back" and run out the room,do your research and then go back in and say " I'm sorry,what were you saying?" Use this method in the future.
    In this case I would really take a minute to explain the LPN scope of practice and then refer her to the primary care RN after applauding her for asking the question in the first place.Too many patients take a passive role in their care.It's their job to get better and it sounds like this patient was going to do her job to the fullest.Don't get defensive when a patient questions you-lots of times they know more about their disease and meds then you do and you can learn from them.
    In your setting you really do need to know all of the meds your patient is on even though you can't administer some of them-you need to be alert for possible interactions,assess the site and as a courtesy you should let the RN know when she needs to hang another primary bag
  6. 1
    Quote from ktwlpn
    You can always pull this old trick " Oh,they are calling for me,I'll be right back" and run out the room,do your research and then go back in and say " I'm sorry,what were you saying?" Use this method in the future.
    In this case I would really take a minute to explain the LPN scope of practice and then refer her to the primary care RN after applauding her for asking the question in the first place.Too many patients take a passive role in their care.It's their job to get better and it sounds like this patient was going to do her job to the fullest.Don't get defensive when a patient questions you-lots of times they know more about their disease and meds then you do and you can learn from them.
    In your setting you really do need to know all of the meds your patient is on even though you can't administer some of them-you need to be alert for possible interactions,assess the site and as a courtesy you should let the RN know when she needs to hang another primary bag
    Thanks for keeping it real
    Burke likes this.
  7. 14
    Thanks for the tips!

    Today I looked up the meds I didn't know in the mars and wrote them down on a brain sheet i have for each patient. There was 3 meds I did not know out of all of them. I just read everything about them before administering.
    tnmarie, FLArn, psu_213, and 11 others like this.
  8. 1
    I think that you did what you thought was best for the situation. As new nurses we "all" face situations that we have not been in before and the most important thing is to "learn" from the experience; you have.
    You can never know everything about everything; though as a nurse with 35 years experience I was blessed to have the experience that I did.
    I would advise you to defer to the RN, or give the very basic information ie. "It is an antibiotic, to help your body fight off infection." If your patient has questions after you have told them this, I would again defer to the RN.
    Thank you for posting, and I apologize to you for any unsuitable responses you may have received.
    Good luck in your nursing career, I think you will be an enhancement to the field of nursing.
    Last edit by Burke on Mar 21, '13 : Reason: PLACING CAPITAL LETTERS
    ethiopia likes this.
  9. 1
    In an ideal world you should know every med your patient is on. Unfortunately, I have come up unprepared a time or two. I say, "Medications can be prescribed for different reasons. I don't want to give you incorrect information. Let me take a quick peek at your chart and come right back." If you act confident and make eye contact it can buy you time to look it up. I have had to do that with meds given on other shifts. Never had a problem. I did hear a nurse try to bs her way through explaining why a person was taking aggrenox for diabetes. It wasn't pretty.
    wooh likes this.
  10. 0
    You are doing great! The fact that you are seeking more information tells me that you will be fine.
    When there are RNs and LPNs practicing together it is a team effort.
    The RNs on your team should let you know if there are specific concerns that they have with a patient and POC.
    They are paid to have a broader base of knowledge, more technical skills, a firm grasp of the nursing process, and critical thinking skills. RNs, as you are aware but your patient may not be, are differently educated and prepared than you are.
    That doesn't relieve you of the responsibility to educate yourself, but they should also be a resource for you.

    So, if a patient asks you a question about a medication relative to their disease process or the management of their illness, it is perfectly acceptable to defer that to the expertise of the RN. If it is a straight forward "what is it for" and/or "what are the side effects" question, you will be a better LPN if you know the answer.

    Good luck!


Top