TN nurses with drug addictions can get help, keep job

Monitoring is a great way to hold accountability lines with our families, employees and friends.It is great to know that companies are holding people accountable. Below is an article about helping nurses through monitoring services.

Fear of firing can threaten patient safety, study says

1:26 AM, Feb. 21, 2011     Written by    Tom Wilemon

A nurse high on pot sleeps in a bathroom, neglecting her duty to care for patients in an adult psychiatric unit.

Another walks around in a surgery center with glazed eyes and blood visible on her arm from a self-administered Demerol injection.

A third nurse suspected of pilfering Percocet breaks her boss's nose upon being fired.

These incidents occurred in the Nashville area within the past year and could have been prevented if the nurses had asked for help.

Zero-tolerance policies that mandate the firing of nurses with addictions keep the problem a hushed topic and wind up endangering patients, according to a study by Todd Monroe, a post-doctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University.

"If a nurse is afraid to come forward or a student nurse is afraid to come forward, they are at risk of potentially hurting someone and themselves," Monroe said. "A non-punitive policy has been shown to increase patient safety. There is an avenue for them to get off the floor."

The public gets more protection when health-care institutions offer an alternative-to-dismissal policy, he said. Such a policy can get an impaired nurse off the job and into treatment within days to a few weeks, while documenting the proof to terminate employment can take years, according to an article Monroe recently had published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Monroe looked at policies for handling nurses with addictions both nationally and internationally. Forty-five state nursing boards, including Tennessee's, have established an alternative-to-dismissal program.

Some seek treatment on their own

More than 220 nurses appeared before the Tennessee Board of Nursing in the past year because of substance abuse records, according to a review of disciplinary actions by The Tennessean. Of those, the licenses of 89 were revoked, 74 were suspended and 66 were put on probation. In almost all cases of suspension or probation, the nurses are referred to the Tennessee Professional Assistance Program.

A nurse high on pot sleeps in a bathroom, neglecting her duty to care for patients in an adult psychiatric unit.

Another walks around in a surgery center with glazed eyes and blood visible on her arm from a self-administered Demerol injection.

A third nurse suspected of pilfering Percocet breaks her boss's nose upon being fired.

These incidents occurred in the Nashville area within the past year and could have been prevented if the nurses had asked for help.

Zero-tolerance policies that mandate the firing of nurses with addictions keep the problem a hushed topic and wind up endangering patients, according to a study by Todd Monroe, a post-doctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University.

"If a nurse is afraid to come forward or a student nurse is afraid to come forward, they are at risk of potentially hurting someone and themselves," Monroe said. "A non-punitive policy has been shown to increase patient safety. There is an avenue for them to get off the floor."

The public gets more protection when health-care institutions offer an alternative-to-dismissal policy, he said. Such a policy can get an impaired nurse off the job and into treatment within days to a few weeks, while documenting the proof to terminate employment can take years, according to an article Monroe recently had published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Monroe looked at policies for handling nurses with addictions both nationally and internationally. Forty-five state nursing boards, including Tennessee's, have established an alternative-to-dismissal program.

Some seek treatment on their own

More than 220 nurses appeared before the Tennessee Board of Nursing in the past year because of substance abuse records, according to a review of disciplinary actions by The Tennessean. Of those, the licenses of 89 were revoked, 74 were suspended and 66 were put on probation. In almost all cases of suspension or probation, the nurses are referred to the Tennessee Professional Assistance Program.

Read more here:

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110221/NEWS07/102210323/-1/GREENGREENGREENGREENINDEX.HTM/TN-nurses-drug-addictions-can-get-help-keep-job