Weird actions that are out of nursing scope

  1. Hi all,

    I just passed my NCLEX and will be starting on an acute care unit next week.

    I had a teacher tell me that if her children have friends over who have a headache that she can't give them ibuprofen because that's considered "prescribing medication." That sounds suspect to me, especially because she is in her own home and that medication is over-the-counter.

    However, if she is right, that makes me worried that there are other seemingly innocent actions out there that are technically considered out of scope and that could put my license at risk.

    Aside from the obvious parameters in a nurse's scope of practice, how do you learn what's okay/not okay for a nurse to do in strange situations like this? Is this something most nurses know or is it something that comes with time and experience?

    Thanks!
  2. Visit AriRN36 profile page

    About AriRN36

    Joined: Jul '18; Posts: 5; Likes: 2

    28 Comments

  3. by   Sour Lemon
    I wouldn't give anyone's child medication without their parents' knowledge and consent, even if I weren't a nurse.
    Your "question" is a little broad beyond that.
    Look at your state's BON discipline files. They're frequently online. It will give you a better idea of the things nurses get disciplined for and perhaps prevent so much needless worrying.
  4. by   Newgradnurse17
    It's nursing school. They love to scare you. Don't over think it. In the hospital you have staff to guide you. In your free time you will find you rarely come across situation that require you to be a nurse. And If you come across a emergency situation, just remain In the nurses scope of practise and don't do anything that you don't know how to do. Act the same way you would if you were at work. But there's really no need for this worry. It's just typical nursing lecturer induced panic.
  5. by   AriRN36
    Ha - okay, glad to hear it. So what about with things like a friend or family member asking you about symptoms they have? Is it out of scope to tell them what you think might be the cause, what meds might benefit them, etc...or is this just another example of me overthinking things?
  6. by   Sour Lemon
    Quote from AriRN36
    Ha - okay, glad to hear it. So what about with things like a friend or family member asking you about symptoms they have? Is it out of scope to tell them what you think might be the cause, what meds might benefit them, etc...or is this just another example of me overthinking things?
    As nurses, we do not prescribe medication or diagnose ...and even MDs must assess and run diagnostic tests to come up with the right answer. I assume you don't have an in-home lab or MRI machine? There's your out. Just let them know.
  7. by   KelRN215
    Quote from AriRN36
    Ha - okay, glad to hear it. So what about with things like a friend or family member asking you about symptoms they have? Is it out of scope to tell them what you think might be the cause, what meds might benefit them, etc...or is this just another example of me overthinking things?
    It's in your best interest to not entertain such questions from friends and family members. Not because of legal reasons but to protect your sanity. My mother loves to ask me questions about her hip osteoarthritis then not listen to what I say. Like tell me she's going to see an Orthopedic surgeon but doesn't want surgery, not listen to me when I tell her to go to Physiatrist and then wonder why the surgeon recommended surgery when she doesn't want surgery yet.

    She also didn't listen to me when I told her taking less than 600 mg of Ibuprofen is useless, until she told her doctor "my daughter who is a nurse said taking less than 3 Ibuprofen is useless" and the doctor said "your daughter is right."
  8. by   LovingLife123
    I don't give medical advice to friends. I may tell my mom a thing or two if she calls and asks me a question. I did chew her out when I found out she had a TIA about a year ago and she didn't seek treatment right away.

    As far as the meds, I wouldn't give a kid meds without asking the parents. But your teacher was stretching it a little. When my husband has a headache and I give him excedrin migraine, I'm not prescribing. I'm not a nurse at home. I'm a wife.

    I'm not on duty 24/7. Now, giving my patient in the hospital excedrin migraine without an order is prescribing. But me at home giving my family an ibuprofen is not.

    I used to have nursing school instructors like that. Loved to scare us with not true stuff. When I found out the truth, I lost all respect for those instructors not just as a teacher, but as a professional nurse.
  9. by   JKL33
    Quote from LovingLife123
    I used to have nursing school instructors like that. Loved to scare us with not true stuff. When I found out the truth, I lost all respect for those instructors not just as a teacher, but as a professional nurse.
    Ditto. Some I don't even think they're trying to scare anyone; they just have poor judgment/common sense and are overall lacking in the intelligence department.

    OP, I agree with another poster above, don't get in the habit of commenting on everyone's problems and refer people to their doctor, nurse, or even google when they attempt to compel your input. Kidding on that last one, sort of.

    My family is close-knit and my experience is used to benefit them as appropriate.

    If you can avoid going rogue ("Outta my way, I'm a nurse!") you will avoid the issues you're concerned about.
  10. by   caliotter3
    Quote from Sour Lemon
    I wouldn't give anyone's child medication without their parents' knowledge and consent, even if I weren't a nurse.
    This.
  11. by   psu_213
    Quote from AriRN36
    Ha - okay, glad to hear it. So what about with things like a friend or family member asking you about symptoms they have? Is it out of scope to tell them what you think might be the cause, what meds might benefit them, etc...or is this just another example of me overthinking things?
    "It is probably something simple and not serious [most of the time, it will not be something serious], but I recommend that you talk to your PCP about it."

    Obviously if it something like crushing chest pain, tell them to get to the ER right away...offer to call 911.
  12. by   Crush
    Quote from KelRN215
    My mother loves to ask me questions about her hip osteoarthritis then not listen to what I say.
    My mother and father are the same way. They ask me a question, don't believe me, ask their doctor who confirms what I said. This cycle has repeated itself way too many times. I only give advise or suggestions to immediate family only.
  13. by   AriRN36
    Thanks everyone for that info. I figured something sounded off, but again, don't want to lose my license over something that could easily be avoided if I only knew.

    I also should have corrected - by children I did NOT mean young children. Her kid is like 18 or 19. Sorry you couldn't read my mind.
  14. by   ICUman
    Quote from KelRN215
    She also didn't listen to me when I told her taking less than 600 mg of Ibuprofen is useless
    Sorry if this is naive, but what is the rationale behind this statement? I've not heard that before. Is it unique to hip osteoarthritis and similar conditions, or are you saying in general?

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