Administer vs. dispense?

  1. I am an RN working at a large University student health center. My employer wants us staff nurses to rotate through a "medication dispensing nurse" position. This nurse will work in a room filled with stock meds, dispensing them to students who have been given prescriptions from our providers (MDs, CRNPs, and PAs). We will be responsible for ordering, inventorying, storing, and dispensing multiple doses of medications. It sounds like a job for a pharmacist to us but our employer refuses to hire a pharmacist because "it would cost too much money."

    We think this is outside the scope of practice of an RN. We feel that the PA nurse practice act says that nurses administer single doses of meds, not dispense multiple doses of medications. However, our employer is adamant that this is within our scope of practice because they are directing us to do it and they will write a policy to "cover us". We have been resisting this for 9 months but time is running out.

    The PA State board of nursing has not been helpful. They will not help us to interpret the nurse practice act.

    What do you think? Can RNs legally dispense multiple doses of meds?
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    About AFCampNurse

    Joined: Jul '06; Posts: 7

    3 Comments

  3. by   sirI
    This might help bolster your position:

    http://www.pshp.org/documents/Nonmguide02.pdf
  4. by   suzanne4
    Dsipensing of medications is actually under the Board of Pharmacy for your state, suggest that you get their input. And I am sure that they will side with you.

    Administration of medications is covered under the Board of Nursing, but anything else and it is per the Board of Pharmacy. Dispensing is not something covered under a BON.

    Best of luck to you and please let us know the outcome. Interesting to see.
  5. by   AFCampNurse
    Thanks for your responses, sirI and Suzanne4.

    We thought that the PA Board of Pharmacy would be helpful too, but, like the PA State Board of Nursing, their pat answer seems to be "read the practice act".

    Well, we have read them and while they are incredibly specific about some things (like what exactly constitutes sexual harassment), they are woefully vague in spelling out the difference between "administering" and "dispensing".

    Has anyone else in ever had a problem with dispensing meds?

    Sharon

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