Registered nurse shares insight on training and practices for giving patients medications

Tara - Nurse training expert interview.jpg

A former nurse instructor says a nurse is the last check and balance before a patient ever receives medications. (WSYX/WTTE)

A former nurse instructor says a nurse is the last check and balance before a patient ever receives medications.

Cathy Myerholtz is a registered nurse in Ohio and came forward to ABC 6 to share what she experienced in teaching nursing students how medications are given to patients. It comes as a former Mt. Carmel doctor is accused in multiple wrongful death lawsuits of ordering fatal doses of Fentanyl to patients. Some nurses and pharmacists have also been named.

Myerholtz says she was a full-time instructor at Mount Carmel College of Nursing for eight years. She says she taught her students to question doctors’ orders should there ever be doubt about medications prescribed for patients.

“There may be some intimidation initially, but you get over that I mean you’ve got to advocate for the patient and you’re that last check and balance for patient safety,” said Myerholtz.

Myerholtz says she drilled into her students medication administration. “To make sure you have the right patient the right medication the right dosage the right time and also in terms of the proper documentation."

The wrongful death lawsuits involving Dr. William Husel, nurses and pharmacists at Mount Carmel West has been difficult for her to hear. Myerholtz says she worked with nurses or nurses in training at all the hospitals in the Mount Carmel system.

“One of the first principals of the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics is to do no harm,” said Myerholtz.

She says Mount Carmel used an electronic medication system in which a doctor would submit a prescription to the pharmacy where it would be attached to a patient’s medication profile.

Myerholtz says a nurse would either scan their badge or fingerprint along with a patient’s bracelet to pull up their records to get the medication ordered from an automated dispensing cabinet. “Typically there’s a bar code on it and you would scan that and if the dosage was different or maybe the name didn’t match then there would a pop up window that would alert the nurse that you need to pay special attention to this,” said Myerholtz.

Asked if someone could override the pop-up notification, Myerholtz said yes, they could.

Myerholtz says she taught her nursing students to question orders if there’s doubt.

“If something wasn’t correct if it was suspicious you know when in doubt contact the person who prescribed it and seek clarification of that order,” said Myerholtz.

Myerholtz says she feels for the patients and the families connected to the Mount Carmel investigation.

Mount Carmel has pointed to a new approval process for pain medications at high doses during like situations. ABC 6 did reach out to Mount Carmel about its system for medication administration and have not heard back.


Follow Tara Morgan on Facebook and Twitter: @TaraWSYX6