What is your opinion regarding medication management by unlicensed nurses in assisted-living facilities?

By | 2022-02-14T18:06:41-05:00 October 3rd, 2011|0 Comments

Question:

Dear Nancy,

What is your opinion regarding medication management by unlicensed nurses in assisted-living facilities? What about medication management by unlicensed aides in assisted-living facilities? The aides seem to be giving medications in the same fashion that a nurse would — some with and some without nurse supervision.

Jack

Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Jack,

Unfortunately, medication administration by unlicensed nurses in assisted-living facilities and other healthcare facilities (e.g., mental health facilities) and schools, as examples, is becoming increasingly common. Hiring unlicensed individuals to carry out aspects of patient care and treatment is an attractive option because many hospitals and other healthcare facilities do not have the money to hire licensed healthcare providers, including nurses. Salaries and benefits are less so the employer believes it can get the job done without extraordinary costs.

The problem with this plan, however, is the patient’s well being is not always taken into consideration. Moreover, if one believes the administration of medications is a professional nursing role, such a plan negates an important aspect of nursing practice that is not simply “pushing pills.”

Regardless of the arguments against using unlicensed aides to take over medication administration, it is done and many states have passed legislation that allows health facilities to do so. Although the state laws vary in terms of their specific content, the laws often require some kind of training for those who will pass the medications, the types of medications that can be passed by these individuals (e.g., topical and oral, but no injectibles) and what supervision, if any, is required and by whom.

You can conduct research online to get information about what states allow this practice and read about the controversy surrounding the practice. Simply place something like: “states that allow aides to pass medications” in your search bar.

Sincerely,
Nancy

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