Can I bolus this patient? A legal / practice question about sedatives and narcotics - page 4

by simvee

19,762 Views | 77 Comments

Hi, I'm a new RN in a trauma ICU. We use a LOT of pain drips and sedative drips. Typical patient has Versed and fentanyl on pumps with orders to titrate as needed to maintain sedation (MAAS score of 2-3). Sometimes they use... Read More


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    David Carpenter (core0) - bolus injections are not easily available from the electronic med cabinet when your patient is on a drip. In fact I think the software tries to prevent people on drips from being double-ordered injections of the same med, but I'm not sure.

    At any rate, don't you think that's a waste of time and resources? Why should I waste the time it takes to get a bottle, draw it up, inject, and then throw away all the garbage generated by this, when our pumps are DESIGNED to give boluses? They're designed with the medications, dose per volume, drip rates and bolus injections pre-set.
    CCL RN and zofran like this.
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    Quote from ithryn
    At any rate, don't you think that's a waste of time and resources? Why should I waste the time it takes to get a bottle, draw it up, inject, and then throw away all the garbage generated by this, when our pumps are DESIGNED to give boluses?
    Yes it most certainly is a waste of time and resources.

    However, one good multidisciplinary (Pharmacy Service, Nursing management, Hospital Administration, D.E.A.) narcotics investigation due to an abusing co-worker, will cure you of seeing it as a hardship.
    Last edit by Flying ICU RN on Aug 28, '10
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    What facility did you say you worked at again?????

    Quote from ithryn
    Emse12, are you an ICU nurse? Have you ever initiated or maintained a Versed drip? I don't know how you could be going so over the top about this.

    ithryn, read my bio........31 years of critical care medicine. All but 8 months of my entire career.... Open heart, transplant, trauma, peditrauma,neuro,cath lab..................all ICU critical care. I have all my certifications.......BCEN,CCRN, CFRN and CRNI to name a few. In all specialties....adult,pedi,neonate. I went over the top out of concern for you......my error.

    We work with Level 1 trauma surgeons, intensivists, general surgeons, thoracic surgeons, internal meds, and critical care pulmonologists. I cannot for the life of me imagine asking them something so basic as how to start and titrate and bolus intravenous Versed. Are they psychic? Can they foretell that my patient will need 3 mg to start with and then have to go up to 5 by the morning? No. If I asked them where to start, they'd ask me where to start, based on the patient's agitation, body weight, prior drug history, etc. If you think this is illegal can you show me any laws or precedent that indicates this? Because the physician is ordering it.

    YOU should be a valued member of the team.......not the only member. I don't think asking my opinion is illegal but writing orders or medicating the patient without an MD is malpractice and you as a "new to trauma" nurse cannot be so wise to the ways of all patients and wiser that the MD's. My opinion was always valued and followed but never shoved down someones throat (except when they deserved it).

    If I say that fake parameters are sometimes entered, that is the case. It's the fault of the software, not the ordering entities. I'm not an idiot, and I'm not neglecting to check orders. If the order in the computer reads "titrate fentanyl to maintain pain control" and it starts at 0 mcg/hr, I should double check because the physician might really want 0 mcg/hr? I don't think you're getting what I'm talking about at all.

    Yes you should clarify the busy doctor's or incompetent residents orders........yes.

    When I said that you can only chart volume boluses, I meant you can only chart volume boluses. You click "bolus" and there is an entry box only for volume (ml). I'm not sure how to explain it any further to you.

    So if you bolus x cc's you can account for x amt of mg's right? no explanation necessary.


    If you've worked with narcotic drips before, you'd know that the amount of fluid in the IV bags are not exactly easy to track. It's easy to do a narc count and see that a Versed injection is missing. It's not easy to see that 1 ml of a 250 ml bag of Versed is missing. Unfortunately this is the way it works. If you want a more restrictive scenario where every ml of fluid is accounted for, where we pour out IV bags into graduated cylinders so we can verify the amount left, you can feel free to create one. Me, I just want to be able to chart that I did it. I don't see that it's my fault that the computer charting was not designed for this, probably because it had no nursing or even physician input.

    Suggestion........use a buritrol or a micro dripper as is used for exact dosage in the neonatal/pediactric medicine administration/ and yes there is always some missing cc at the end but really not if you are bolusing thru the pump and clearing the pump every....let's say 4 hours....you can get pretty close....that is unless there is a problem. You know some of these new fangled pumps actually will infuse medicine from a syringe.......Oh and one more thing.............. that graduated cylinder ...........is called a med cup.


    And thanks, I know how to calculate.
    You're right........I am way over the top..................no skin off my nose when you lose your license. Don't believe me?????? Call your BON.........by the way.....you do have malpractice insurance....you may need it some day. You asked a question......I thought you wanted an honest answer and I gave you an expert, qualified,honest one..........from an honest place....my heart.....Take it or leave it your choice.
    Last edit by Esme12 on Aug 28, '10
    armyicurn, CrabbyPatty, and leslie :-D like this.
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    Quote from ithryn
    David Carpenter (core0) - bolus injections are not easily available from the electronic med cabinet when your patient is on a drip. In fact I think the software tries to prevent people on drips from being double-ordered injections of the same med, but I'm not sure.

    At any rate, don't you think that's a waste of time and resources? Why should I waste the time it takes to get a bottle, draw it up, inject, and then throw away all the garbage generated by this, when our pumps are DESIGNED to give boluses? They're designed with the medications, dose per volume, drip rates and bolus injections pre-set.

    Then why are they not documented!!???
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    Flying ICU RN - I still fail to follow you. How exactly are my coworkers going to abuse a drug that's confined to IV drip bags and the tubing running to the patient? I suppose if you were creative you could angiocath yourself and attach yourself in the patient's room, or you could bolus the line into a paper cup and drink it...? Anyway, a properly programmed pump that is properly cleared and accounted for does the same work without the extra syringes and easily stolen glass bottles. Isn't it more likely that you would remove a glass bottle of a narcotic and take it home but simply chart you gave it to the patient? It's harder to make the pump lie than it is to falsify charting.

    emse - I don't recall saying I was wiser than the physicians. I don't see how that could be construed when it's the physicians writing the orders. This is how the orders are universally written. I've seen this at a few different hospitals. Maybe it's different in your state? It certainly could be.

    For instance, in our hospital, the physician orders a paralytic agent. We start it using hospital guidelines. We adjust it using hospital guidelines based on our assessment findings. The physician almost never dictates a dose, titration, or bolus. In fact, it's generally assumed (i.e. a head pharmacist said this) that we know more about the intricacies of dosing than the physician does. Which is no shame on him or her at all! But regardless of who you think is in charge in this situation, all of our actions are legally covered by (in fact obligated by) the physician's order. There's no such thing as a nurse giving or titrating a paralytic agent without an order.

    Our use of analgesics and sedatives are governed exactly the same way. The only problem I have is that the hospital guidelines are a bit hazier, i.e. there's no "Go up by X amount if the patient is acting Y or Z." like there is with paralytics or pressors or antihypertensive drips. And my original question was whether boluses are covered by this, and that's what I wanted input on. I didn't expect the entire concept of RN-led titration would be called into question and that people would call for my license to be revoked!

    I admit that our charting software is not ideal. In fact, we've had to recently hound some physicians for getting lax about adding the "titrate to sedation" part in the computer. So maybe I will bring up the difficulty of charting boluses and the confusion the RNs have over whether boluses are technically covered under that order any longer. Maybe it will be fixed? Like I said, I chart them as volume boluses, but that doesn't feature as prominently in the charting flowsheet as the dosage titrations do.

    Anyway. I do thank you for your concern. I just didn't realize there were so many people who have apparently never heard of RNs being delegated (with hospital guidelines and protocols) the titration of medications.

    Chris
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    Quote from ithryn
    Flying ICU RN - I still fail to follow you. How exactly are my coworkers going to abuse a drug that's confined to IV drip bags and the tubing running to the patient?
    Because a drug abuser gets quite creative in ways that you cannot imagine until it is revealed. Aside from that, when one of these "Witch Hunts" gets initiated, everyone's in the cross hairs and considered guilty until proven otherwise. What happens is a review (at the molecular level) of everything you've done for months, if not further.

    In my case, as part of the collateral damage caused by the abuser, I was questioned on why a PCA had run dry a few hours earlier than it should have. The reason; undocumented bolus's from the prior shift.
    Last edit by Flying ICU RN on Aug 28, '10
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    To the OP,
    First off, it's very evident that you are a new nurse (as you have previously stated) and new to critical care.

    People can EASILY divert narcotics and benzos and nobody is none the wiser as to their doings. You will probably be highly surprised with your first experience of finding out that a co-worker...a mentor even...is long longer employed in your unit because of controlled substance diversion. These folks will go to the earth's end to obtain the meds.

    Anything you do with controlled substances needs to be VERY carefully documented. You need a paper trail. All it will take is one time of you being investigated and you will understanding exactly what we're trying to tell you and prevent from happening to you.

    You can have restrictions placed on your license over 1mg of Midazolam that is unaccounted for.
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    It depends on the patient and the team's goals for the patient. Where are we trying to get them in the next 24 hours or so?

    One facility I work with uses 1-2mg Ativan IV q15min PRN and a fentanyl gtt.

    Another facility I work with...the pulmonologist wants the patients SNOWED. It's nothing to have 30-40mg/hr of Versed, propofol gtt, and fentanyl gtt, and will then have PRN orders for fentanyl, dilaudid, and ativan.

    Different strokes for different folks.
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    I agree. We have some docs who start off with 400 of fentanyl and 6 of versed because they don't want their patients to even twitch! Others, will use just propofol and a little fentanyl.

    Variety is the spice of life!!
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    I have cerner too. Why cant they put in a PRN sliding scale for the drug like for insulin for example and have it q15 or however. Then you can select the med under PRN and then input the amount administered there so you will show what you give on top of everything else.
    Zookeeper3 and simvee like this.


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