At a time when medical errors are already the THIRD leading cause of death in the United States, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts could make it legal for unlicensed people to administer medications to ANY patient in ANY setting, including intensive care units, acute care hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Until now, the delegation of these clinical duties away from nurses has been strictly prohibited. Why? Because they involve complex procedures that demand the skilled assessment and monitoring that only nurses can provide. If this proposal is left unchallenged it will severely undermine our state's high nursing standards. It will mean fewer nurses in all settings and more risk of medication errors that can lead to injury and death.
BACKGROUND ON THIS CRISIS: Right now only licensed nurses are allowed to administer medications to patients, including chemotherapy, heart medicine and other complex drugs. This high standard has long ensured patient safety because nearly every medication on the market comes with dangerous side effects and risks for interactions.
Nurses, with years of training and practice, are not only skilled at safely administering these medications, but are also experts at accurately assessing patients after they are given medications and at providing appropriate follow-up care. Now the Board of Registration in Nursing, under Gov. Charlie Baker, could allow unlicensed people in all health care settings to be able to administer medications.