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QUALITY QUICKIE: Follow up to Kentucky nurse dismissals

A cardiologist wrote to me about my post concerning the nurses fired for administering drugs without physician approval. The response suggests that there should have been standing orders, which sounds logical to me:

    In regards to intubated patients, 1) almost all ventilated patients have standing orders for either Diprivan, Versed, or Ativan; 2) these sedating medications are held prior to extubating patients; 3) in my experience, (for what it’s worth), patients who extubate themselves usually stay off the vent, either because they were ready to be extubated, or because they would rather die than be re-intubated. I don’t know why those nurses were disciplined. If they willfully ignored the MD’s order, they should be fired (unless the MD was grossly incompetent). If said MD did not given standing orders for Diprivan, etc, s/he deserves to be paged throughout the night.  . . . One other possibility:  the physicians were so incompetent, the nurses took it upon themselves to initiate sedation orders. But again, if standing orders were present, this would not be a violation..

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