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Impaired Nurses

Impaired Nurses

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Published by Melissa Hasty

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Published by: Melissa Hasty on Aug 16, 2010
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Running head: IMPAIRED NURSES 1
Impaired Nurses Nurses who use Drugs IllegallyPaula HastyChamberlain UniversityTransitions to Professional Nursing NUR 351Professor Faye Silverman
Impaired Nurses Nurses who use Drugs IllegallyA Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN,) who works for the local hospital for about 10 year, sheis conscientious and is respected by her peers and management. A Registered Nurse (RN), whothe LPN does not know well, was covering her; the RN was responsible to do all the intravenous(IV) medication pushes for her. She asked the RN to give a patient some pain medications IV push. The patient complains one hour later that he did not receive pain relief. After speaking tosome colleagues, the LPN hears from other colleagues that when this RN works the patients areunable to receive pain relief. The LPN informs management of her concerns. After extensiveinvestigation, management and a few of the RN's close colleagues, who were concerned for her health, conducted an intervention with the RN. It seemed that she had fallen into the drugaddiction trap. After injuring her back two years ago, the RN was taking prescribed Oxycontin.The RN started needing the medication to believe she was normal. When she could not get anymore medication from her doctor, she started diverting medication from the Pyxis system at thehospital. She and her spouse divorced and her addiction started to escalate. She worked severalshifts of overtime so that she would have access to the medications that she craved. She was infear of being caught and started taking the medication that was ordered for the patients. She wasashamed and did not know where to turn when the intervention occurred.
 Nurses have a reputation as the most trusted profession in America. Nurses have taken anoath to maintain "good moral character." In Florida, signing a "Good Moral Character" affidavit
that explains exactly what a violation to that oath may be, is required. Nurses are entrusted withthe care of America's weakest citizen. These people are sick and debilitated. Ill people aredependent on the care of a nurse for everything. Because of this responsibility, nurses must haveaccess to all types of medications. No matter how responsible a nurse is, some nurses stillsuccumb to temptations of drug abuse. This is a huge problem for hospitals; with the nursingshortage the board of nursing cannot afford to lose these valuable resources. That is one reason theBoard of Nursing is turning away from punishment to treatment for this problem. Drug addictionhas become recognized as an illness in this country. Punishing people for their illnesses is not anaccepted way of dealing with the problem. Treatment is an accepted way to deal with the issue of impaired nurses. Nursing education does not include information on how to recognize a colleague battlingan addiction. In Nursing Forum (2009), "«specific characteristics of chemically dependent nursesinclude high achievement and success orientation. These nurses often have earned advancedegrees, are in positions of responsibility, are polysubtance abusers and tend to lack support inrecovery. They often have co morbid mental health disorders, as depression, that is common inchemically dependent nurses and should be addressed in treatment". Signs and symptoms asfrequent job changes, working frequent off shifts, history of chronic pain from an injury or recentsurgery, and patients complaining of inadequate pain relief are often indicators of an impairednurse. According to Jack Stem, who is the founder of the Peer Advocacy for Impaired nursesLLC in Ohio, "The stigma that addiction is a moral failure or lack of willpower rather than adisease is embedded in U.S. society." According to RN (2009), nurses rarely self report becausethey are fearful of losing their livelihood. Drug addicts also think they are in control and will notadmit they are having a problem until they hit rock bottom. Intervention may create an "artificial

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