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Giving OTC medications to your aides/coworkers?

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by knotizer12 knotizer12 (Member)

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I've given my charge nurse some of my caffeine pills on those nights where coffee doesn't help lol. I don't see a problem in giving OTC meds as long as they are from your own supply and not from the facility's.

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if they are requesting something they could run over to CVS and purchase I just give it to them, within reason. They are asking, you aren't suggesting. Personally, Ive never had a problem with it.

This is what I was thinking too. If someone ASKED you for an OTC med, give them the bottle of the specific medication that they asked for and let them take what they want from it. This is different than someone saying that they have a headache and you offering whatever OTC med you have in your purse. A fine distinction, but one that needs to be made in my opinion.

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1,084 Likes; 7 Followers; 21,228 Visitors; 2,678 Posts

Thanks for the replies, all!

What would you do if the aide or coworker starts having a reaction and all the heat came down on you for giving them the medication?

This issue and the topic of this whole thread has to be navigated by keeping personal and professional separate.

You can navigate it without advising anyone and without "administering medication" in the legal sense. I absolutely would not get into assessing whether or not your coworker should have medication, and I would not give them medication from the employer's stock, since you only have access to that because of your professional relationship with the employer. Accessing it brings your professional role into play when that is otherwise irrelevant.

If your employer doesn't wish to provide a stock of common OTC med that any staff can access, then you should not involve yourself in making your employer's stock available to your coworkers. Anyone is free to bring in supplies of common OTC meds to share.

Don't blur these lines. Your employer can easily correct this if they desire, and if they don't that doesn't mean that it must become your responsibility. If you wish, keep a stash in your locker that you could set out on the break room table if needed, and say, "I think I saw some Tylenol/Motrin on the break room table. I can't give you any out of the cart." By the time that bottle is gone, people will have been retrained to not ask for meds from the cart, because you will have been saying the same thing every time.

DO NOT make your decisions based upon what other nurses do that you suspect is wrong or that makes you uncomfortable.

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1 Like; 742 Visitors; 39 Posts

Thanks for the input, everyone. I really appreciate it.

I guess I should specify: I am talking about giving the HOUSE stock (as in belongs to the company) OTC meds to aides and other coworkers. Sounds like the conscience is a resounding "no!"

And this is just my weekend job and I didn't post anything controversial on Facebook. Just "Would you give OTC meds to your CNAs/coworkers?" but I guess everyone read into and decided that I meant my own personal meds and not the company's.

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Jedrnurse has 25 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a school nurse.

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I kept a "grown-up" supply of stuff at my elementary school health office. I had no problem helping a teacher/custodian/principal out. It helped foster good co-worker relationships.

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RNNPICU has 13 years experience.

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Thanks for the input, everyone. I really appreciate it.

I guess I should specify: I am talking about giving the HOUSE stock (as in belongs to the company) OTC meds to aides and other coworkers. Sounds like the conscience is a resounding "no!"

And this is just my weekend job and I didn't post anything controversial on Facebook. Just "Would you give OTC meds to your CNAs/coworkers?" but I guess everyone read into and decided that I meant my own personal meds and not the company's.

I think most of us understood your post to be giving your co-workers OTC.

I think if you had asked if it was okay to use patients or the med carts OTC for staff needs we would have understood your question differently and thus the no answer.

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Alex_RN has 3 years experience and works as a RN.

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I always have aspirin (my preference), acetaminophen, vitamin C, sugarless breath mints (bulk buy), green tea bags, and dental floss in my locker. It sounds weird when I list it out like that. This is for me but I share. There is nothing wrong sharing OTC with coworkers. They are not my patients, there are no prescriptions required, and these belong to me not the facility. I would never touch a Tylenol out of the Pyxis.

You remind me that there are a lot of "gotcha" conversations in nursing school. A few months into the real world and many of them seem ridiculous, but they do help flesh out boundaries and illustrate concepts.

My mistake: I once gave an alert/oriented patient my unopened roll of sugarless breath mints. She was asking for exactly that and we obviously do not keep that in stock for the patients. I gave her my roll and made it clear that these were mine and I would not have any more. For the next 3 days she kept asking every staff person who came into her room for breath mints, "like that other nurse" gave her. People were talking about it days later and I realized I was "that other nurse." I won't do that again!

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SafetyNurse1968 has 20 years experience as a ADN, BSN, MSN, PhD and works as a Assistant Professor.

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Thanks for the replies, all!

What would you do if the aide or coworker starts having a reaction and all the heat came down on you for giving them the medication?

I would tell the truth, "this adult human asked for a particular medication, and I, another adult human, gave it to her as a kind gesture." You are not responsible if you are simply giving a med to a co-worker - you aren't giving it as a prescription, or as a nurse, but as a human being.

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SafetyNurse1968 has 20 years experience as a ADN, BSN, MSN, PhD and works as a Assistant Professor.

63 Likes; 6 Followers; 33 Articles; 11,260 Visitors; 182 Posts

Thanks for the input, everyone. I really appreciate it.

I guess I should specify: I am talking about giving the HOUSE stock (as in belongs to the company) OTC meds to aides and other coworkers. Sounds like the conscience is a resounding "no!"

And this is just my weekend job and I didn't post anything controversial on Facebook. Just "Would you give OTC meds to your CNAs/coworkers?" but I guess everyone read into and decided that I meant my own personal meds and not the company's.

well, yeah, the answer is no, because letting someone take meds from the company stock is stealing, aside from all the other safety implications.

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60 Likes; 3 Followers; 33,539 Visitors; 4,124 Posts

Absolutely do not do this. You're not their mother, their spouse, their doctor. Protect that license of yours at all cost. ALL cost. You worked too hard to just throw it away.

They WILL blame you if something happens to go wrong. You do not know the status of their livers, kidneys, guts, etc.

Just avoid the whole problem by never giving anybody anything. If they get mad, well, let 'em.

How come they can't keep their own little supply of Tums, Tylenol, or whatever? Why would you have to be any part of their equation?

I once had a tech (RN whose license was messed up, really) who every night would ask for Maalox.

After several weeks of this, I told him he should think about seeing his doctor re: this frequent use of Maalox.

Diagnosis: stomach cancer.

What if he had just kept using Maalox, saying, "Well, the RN gave it to me. Repeatedly. First off, it belonged to the facility and was really not mine to give. Secondly, a good lawyer would say his diagnosis was delayed and he missed an opportunity to be cured.

Who needs that, Sour Lemon? Things like this DO happen.

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60 Likes; 3 Followers; 33,539 Visitors; 4,124 Posts

I've never worked where they didn't have OTCs available to the staff for headaches, back pain, indigestion etc. We kept them in the med cart or the (locked) break room and people just helped themselves. Never thought a thing of it.

The point is that people got it themselves, did not involve the nurse in giving it to them.

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60 Likes; 3 Followers; 33,539 Visitors; 4,124 Posts

I would tell the truth, "this adult human asked for a particular medication, and I, another adult human, gave it to her as a kind gesture." You are not responsible if you are simply giving a med to a co-worker - you aren't giving it as a prescription, or as a nurse, but as a human being.

From the perspective of a lawyer, is there such a thing as a human action? While human, you are also a licensed professional nurse and this is happening at work. I do not know the answer, I'm just thinking aloud.I do think your kind gesture could somehow backfire.

Safety first - just say no. Sorry but no.

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