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Colleague asked me for a Tylenol from my med cart. What to do?

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by FromMNtoCA FromMNtoCA (New Member) New Member

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New grad here. I started working two weeks ago at a SNF, as a med nurse. Today the treatment nurse asked me for a Tylenol. I said, "Sure, for which patient?" She said, "For me, my back is killing me."

I told her I didnt feel comfortable giving her some from the cart. She was shocked and gave me attitude! Later on I told her I felt uncomfortable about the whole exchange over the Tylenol and that as a new nurse, I am terrified of putting my license in jeopardy. She replied, very snottily, "Whatever. Next time I need some I'll know not to come to you."

Should I report her to the DON? 

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3 Followers; 95,410 Visitors; 36,411 Posts

When in the same position, I was told by an experienced nurse to place the stock bottle on top of the cart and "allow" the employee to obtain their own, while at the same time telling them that you were not allowed to dispense meds to employees.  Never gave it much thought at the time.  

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Megan1977 has 38 years experience as a MSN, RN.

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Why in the world would you report her to the DON? 

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85 Visitors; 7 Posts

He is my direct supervisor, its a small facility. And I dont know if I should. That's why I'm seeking the advice of more experienced nurses. If shes taking Tylenol, is she taking anything else?

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4 Followers; 17,695 Visitors; 2,727 Posts

8 hours ago, FromMNtoCA said:

Should I report her to the DON?

Jeesh, you don't have to report her. Why don't you just ask him what to do if an employee asks you for a Tylenol. 

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8 Followers; 21,849 Visitors; 2,837 Posts

Okay, so you are new to all of this. The history here is that this sort of thing has been very common. It wasn't very long ago that RNs/staff in the hospital could remove OTC meds (medications sold over-the-counter) like Tylenol/Motrin from the pyxis if needed for personal use during a shift. This was okay'ed by the employers and as far as I know people didn't abuse it. At the time it was considered to benefit both parties (employee with sore back/headache feels better and keeps working rather than going home or something). The same thing was true in LTC - stock OTC medications (not those of a specific patient) would occasionally be used from the cart.

My guess is that it has been common in your workplace. It may or may not be now. The fact that your coworker walked right up and asked without any qualms might mean it's still common there, or the fact that she asked a very new nurse might mean that it used to be but isn't now.

As far as I know the main reason this ever changed was financial, with employers deciding not to provide free OTC meds for staff.

There is no law being broken (if your employer does wish to provide OTC meds for staff). The meds are not controlled substances and don't require a medical evaluation or prescription. Etc.

7 hours ago, FromMNtoCA said:

If shes taking Tylenol, is she taking anything else?

So from the history of the issue you can probably guess that being concerned that she could be taking other meds (on the basis of having asked for a Tylenol) doesn't follow.

You don't need to report anyone. But for your own knowledge you might ask the DON what the accepted practice is at your workplace.

You did the right thing at the time.

 

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Ruby Vee has 40 years experience as a BSN.

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On 3/25/2019 at 10:50 PM, FromMNtoCA said:

He is my direct supervisor, its a small facility. And I dont know if I should. That's why I'm seeking the advice of more experienced nurses. If shes taking Tylenol, is she taking anything else?

They might be taking something else -- ibuprofen or aspirin or perhaps even a naprosyn, but I doubt very much that taking a Tylenol means she's taking any controlled substances.  

It used to be very common for staff to take OTC meds from the med cart -- in fact we always used to have a box of Tylenol and aspirin on top of our med carts just for staff use.  In my current hospital, the policy says you call the pharmacy and have them tube up a dose for the employee.  No one thinks twice about it.  

I have colleagues who keep a bottle of Tylenol in their lockers, and if someone asks for something, they say "Locker 51 is unlocked, help yourself."  Or whatever.  

It appears that you've gotten off on the wrong foot with this person -- find out the official policy for your facility, and then go and talk to her about how you're new and this made you nervous and how the policy says to handle this sort of thing in the future.

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