Giving OTC medications to your aides/coworkers?

  1. I'm an LPN in WA state. I passed my NCLEX this January so I am pretty new. I work at a LTC facility and I had a question about how y'all feel about providing OTC meds like Tylenol and Tums to CNAs and other coworkers while on the clock.

    The reason I ask is because I have witnessed many nurses at this LTC facility just hand over a few APAP to their aide if (s)he says they have a headache.

    Everything I have been taught in school and read defines this as "prescribing without a license".

    So I personally would not do it because I worked hard for my license but I posted this question on Facebook (maybe not the best move) and am getting mixed answers.

    One of my professors from school, who is a nurse practitioner, simply replied with "no".

    One of my fellow nurses at the LTC facility says "OTC is legal but Rx is not."
    And one of my old CNA coworkers just used it as a chance to crap all over me as a nurse and said some very insulting things.

    What would you say if your aide came up and asked you for APAP or an aspirin? Would you tell them "no" or would you put the bottle on top of the cart so they could get it themselves?

    What would you do if they got offended but you refusing and then tried to make the rest of your shift difficult?

    Background: I just finished my orientation at this LTC facility and I only work on the weekends as I have another job that is M-F. Because of this , I do not see the aides regularly and so many of them do not know me.

    I don't feel comfortable giving out OTC medications to anyone who doesn't have a doctor's order because I do not know what else they are taking or what medical issues they have BUT a also don't want to "rock the boat" and have my CNAs get mad at me because "all the other nurses do it".

    CNAs who might be reading this, what do you do when you have a headache at work? Do you have your own supply of OTC meds to take or do you go ask your nurse? Does your nurse give you medication?

    What would your reaction be if your nurses did not give you medication?

    In my mind, the worst reaction would be for the CNAs to start referring to me as the mean nurse and not wanting to work with me. Or IF they do have to work with me, they are uncooperative.

    So how do you guys feel about giving OTC meds to CNAs or other coworkers? How do you deal with someone getting offended and not helping you just because you said "no".

    Thanks for the responses and advice!
    Last edit by sirI on Jul 5
  2. Visit knotizer12 profile page

    About knotizer12, LPN, EMT-B

    Joined: Jul '18; Posts: 38; Likes: 28

    59 Comments

  3. by   Sour Lemon
    I have no problem handing out OTC medication to coworkers. It's from my personal supply, though ...never from the facility's.
  4. by   TwoLayi
    I don't see a problem with it because A) the CNAs are not your patients in any capacity B) they are adults fully capable of making decisions about their own health C) I think it would be preferable to give them an OTC rather than them going home or worse... jeopardizing patient's safety because they were in pain. However I do understand where you are coming from. At my facility we keep a stash of Ibuprofen, Tums and Band-Aids with the office supplies. It's not accessible to residents, only staff. See if this could be a possibility at your facility.
  5. by   llg
    Quote from Sour Lemon
    I have no problem handing out OTC medication to coworkers. It's from my personal supply, though ...never from the facility's.
    That's what I do. As a friend, I don't mind giving someone something out of my purse. But I would never help the person steal medication from our employer. It's the stealing that bothers me, not the fact that my colleague is choosing to take a Tylenol.
  6. by   knotizer12
    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?
  7. by   psu_213
    Quote from TwoLayi
    At my facility we keep a stash of Ibuprofen, Tums and Band-Aids with the office supplies. It's not accessible to residents, only staff. See if this could be a possibility at your facility.
    I worked on a unit where we had that stuff in a little "OTC pharmacy" in the break room.

    I have no problem giving a coworker a Tylenol, ibuprofen, Tums, etc. if they ask for it. Heck I've asked my coworkers if I bum a Tylenol for a HA--from their personal stash of course. On a side note, I never accept one from a person who takes a pill from an unmarked pill bottle and says "trust me, it's a Tylenol."
  8. by   ponymom
    Each one of the nursing jobs I had kept a little stash in the office. Otc meds were kept in the original bottles and a nurse had to go in with the person who was requesting something, whether they were licensed or unlicensed. I've only been asked for something on two occasions. Most people brought their own from home. Nothing was dispensed from the med cart.
  9. by   TwoLayi
    Quote from knotizer12
    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?
    In this unlikely but possible situation, don't give a OTC they didn't ask for. Let's say they asked for a Tylenol but you only have Ibuprofen, tell them sorry you only have Ibuprofen, ask them if they ever took it before, if they haven't, then maybe you shouldn't give it. And NEVER give more than recommend amount on the bottle. But to avoid all responsibilty keep a bottle they can access themselves and self administer.
  10. by   kbrn2002
    I think that's kind of considered one of the perks of working LTC. Nobody where I work has an issue with staff using OTC meds from the cart. Our med carts are all stocked with Ibuprofen and Naproxen and not a single resident uses them, they are pretty much there just for staff. Heck if the DON needs a tylenol or a tums she comes to one of the nurses to grab it off the med cart.
  11. by   Sour Lemon
    Quote from knotizer12
    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?
    That's some straight up paranoia, friend. Of all the millions of people in the world, can you think of any cases where a coworker gave another one OTC medication and got in some sort of legal trouble for it? It just doesn't happen.
  12. by   KelRN215
    Quote from knotizer12
    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?
    Um, presumably an adult has taken Ibuprofen or Tylenol several times in their life and knows whether or not they have an allergy to it.

    When I worked in the hospital, our pyxis had an option for "staff OTC". Only nurses could access it though. But, yes, I would (and did, many times) pull Tylenol or Ibuprofen for CNAs, MDs, NPs, etc.
  13. by   Tenebrae
    I have no troubles giving tylenol otc. Would rather do that than have to have them leave midshift due to headache or what not
  14. by   Ddestiny
    I'm a big proponent of giving OTC meds to co-workers. I usually have Aleve and APAP in my purse and have no problem running to my locker to get some. Why? Because I want everyone to be at their best when they're at work, and if they're distracted by their headache or their back pain then they're not going to be at the top of their game. There are many other things that can distract people but this is one way that I can control to make the day better, for myself and everyone in the unit, and it's worth the pennies per tab that I give away.

    OP, remember that nursing schools tend to make everyone paranoid. You're not going to lose your license because you gave OTC medication to a friend, family member or co-worker. If you were selling Percocet out of the break room it'd be a different story, but we're talking APAP and Ibuprofen here. It's going to be okay.

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