Are you a brand new nurse that just obtained the first job in the Emergency Room? Or an experienced nurse that has decided to master a new specialty? Well, which ever boat you might be in, here is a head start for you. Below is a list of medications that I promise you will be using time and time again while working in the Emergency Room. This looks like it might be an extensive list, but as time goes on, you will know the entire list inside and out.
In alphabetical order and not limited to. . .
All of your fluids NS 0.9, Dextrose 5% NS 0.9, Lactated Ringers. . .
Amiodarone (Push and Infusion)
Cardiac Arrest Medications (See your ACLS Textbook)
Cardizem (Push and Infusion)
Ciprodex (Otic Drops)
Epinephrine (Push and Infusion)
GI cocktail: Maalox, Donnatal & Lidocaine (PO Mixture)
Lidocaine (Injection, IV Push & Infusion)
Neosynephrine, (nasal spray & IV Infusion)
Nitroglycerine (Pills, Paste & IV Infusion)
Silver Nitrate sticks
Sodium Bicarbonate (Push and Infusion)
Tetracaine (Ophthalmic Drops)
Some of the medications are listed as the brand name and some of the medications are listed as the generic name. It is imperative that you are comfortable with both. Yes, I did do this on purpose, to not include both within this article. I am a teacher at heart, and I could not write this article without some homework involved!
Also, know what your hospital's policy is for the administration of all of the medications listed above. What might be normal practice at one facility, could get you a write up at another. Along with that, as always, never forget the medication administrations safety rules we all were taught in nursing school.
Oh yeah, and how could I forget the life-saving enemas! Saline and Mineral Oil.
Lastly, I will leave you with another tip for all new Emergency Room Nurses. Go through all of the body systems and learn what the emergencies are for those systems. Master those and you will feel comfort in knowing that when you are drowning, you have ruled out all of the time-sensitive emergencies for your patients. Once this has occurred, go down that list again and prioritize your patients from there. The Emergency Room is a no joke place to work, very fast paced and stressful. Mastering this list will help take away some of the stress and improve your overall flow. Give the department some time though, when it gets difficult don't quit. It can be very overwhelming at first, but I promise it will get better.
Michael M. Heuninckx RN-BSN
****Extra Medication Safety Tip****
Set your medication pumps up for success, not failure. When programming your pump to administer a high alert medication, set the rate to match the volume to be infused. This will prevent the entire bag/bottle of medication being accidentally administered to the patient due to your programming error. If this safety measure is not in place, it could lead to a catastrophic and life-threatening event for your patient. Imagine if an entire bag of Cardizem was administered, or the whole bag of Insulin or the whole bottle of Nitroglycerin?! Yikes!!! It only takes an extra second and when the hour is up: go back to set the pump again, reassess your patient, ensure that they are improving and not getting any worse, and continue on with the rest of your patients that need your services.
If you like this article then you might want to check out Michael's new book for nurses...
Code Blue! Now What? Learn What To Do When Your Patients Need You The Most!