Nurses President explains medicine procedure

While doctors are the only permitted medical professionals to prescribe medicine, nurses can be authorised to prescribe basic medicine if they get the okay from a doctor.

So explains the President of the Samoa Nurses Association, Solialofi Papali'i, in response to concerns on whether nurses can prescribe medicines.

The concerns were raised in a story titled "Lack of doctors led to baby's misdiagnosis" published in the Samoa Observer last week.

Fuatai Vaea from Siumu blamed the lack of doctors at the Poutasi Hospital for her two-week old baby being given the wrong medication by nurses.

She said it was not until she took her baby to the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital that a doctor there told her her baby should not have been given the medicine.

In response to questions from the Samoa Observer, Solialofi said nurses are only permitted to give medicine to patients provided they have contacted a doctor at the main hospital.

“The doctor will conduct a verbal order after been given information on the condition of the patient and then advise on the dosage to be given," she said. 

“Doctors prescribe and treat patients but nurses conduct administration. It is because if you administer that, you need to write documented time and details of who and when they transfer the patients to the main hospital, then the doctor that gave the verbal order must sign the documented form with the order that was given."

She said nurses have already taken courses on pharmacology and medicine and they know the side-effects.

“But at the end of the day there are laws and regulations which prohibit them to do so without consent from doctors.

“There are cases where babies can take medicine but a very important factor to consider is that babies that are weeks or months old do not have the capabilities or tolerance for medicine, which is why a baby taking medicine all depends on the doctor's diagnosis.

“Nurses also know how to use stethoscopes where so many people say that nurses want to be doctors well yes, it is because they have the knowledge to use it.

“A stethoscope is just a tool to diagnose and identify but they prescribe their own treatments like suctioning, oxygen administration and insertion of nasogastric tubes to feed children," Solialofi said. 

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