Pot Smoking and Nursing - page 3

Im angry. I work for a small clinic in Northern CA. There are three RN's on staff at all time. Recently our Office Manager decided to start drug testing of all staff including Doctors. Well, one... Read More

  1. by   wildhoney
    Originally posted by frosteefire
    Hi everyone
    I am another one of these people that feels very strongly that any institution that tests employees for marijuana use, and suspends those who come back positive, should also be prepared to fire employees for alcohol use (and that means *any* alcohol use, after all, the drug tests arent allowing occasional use are they?)....
    And YES, it is illegal, but as was pointed out, we all do plenty of things which are illegal - even those of us who might think we are angels . Our employers should be just that - employers - NOT law enforcers. Leave it up to the cops - if someone is smoking enough that they are impairing their everyday life, then they will get busted. And obviously, if someone comes on the floor impaired, they should be asked to leave - just as a person who comes on the floor still hung over should be asked to leave.

    Whew! there's my piece
    G'night everyone......

    I want to mention something about alcohol testing. I work with someone who has that done regularly (supposedly) and she's still drinking. I find her to be extremely moody. You come to work and you never know what kind of mood she's going to be in, and quite frankly I'm getting tired of it. This person does paperwork and has no patient interaction (I dont' know if that's exactly better or worse). It's almost as if they're letting this go on because she is so nice, she does a great job and they feel sorry for her. I don't think it's really going to help her unfortunately. You can really smell the alcohol on her so it's not lke it's a secret. People just kinda go about their business. I'd feel like crap if I said anything to HR about it-- because who am I to ruin someone's life? I'm leaving it for someone else to do...for now. Of course if anything serious ocurred I would have to say something, I only hope it's not too late. Ugh!

    It's funny too-- she wanted to transfer out of our dept. and work in the chem unit. They didn't want her. Maybe it's because that's where she would go for her testing. I can't believe she had the nerve to even apply there.

    In a way I think it's nice that they don't fire you if you have a problem, they want to help you.. but how much longer can it go on before something serious happens?? I'm afraid she'll just snap one day.

    BTW-- I'm talking about...drinking on the job!!
  2. by   suzannasue
    And the controversy continues...
    the only reason marijuana has not been legalized is that there is no "test" that is accurate regarding level of serum THC, nor is there any way to measure "when" the doobie was inhaled on a timeline. It is IMHO that what anyone does outside of the workplace is their business. I personally am sick and tired of my personal life being governed by professional boards...I have seen more mistakes made by sober/straight health care professionals whose SERUM STUPID levels were off the chart than by anyone else. No,I do not condone substance "abuse" on the job, nor do I partake of recreational drugs once I clock out ...however, in our society's efforts to attain perfection and politically correctness at all costs, I feel that we have gone way over the line...
    It is again, IMHO, that if we are to "send home" those co-workers who are impaired, let's start sending home all who bring in their love life problems, those who stay on the phone more than in pts rooms and those whose arrogance exceeds belief.
    Recently, a friend of mine went to the restroom to answer the call of mother nature...while there.she brushed her teeth and used mouth wash. Once at the desk,she applied the foamy alcohol based hand wash found at your favorite health care facility because she does not like the slimy after feel of the bathroom soap on her hands...a co-worker reported her for "smelling" like she had been drinking...she was sent for a breathalyzer which gave a reading of .0000001 ( cannot remember exact number but it was extremely negligible and was due to ETOH content of mouthwash!!!!!!) She was sent home, given a 2 week suspension without pay due to the "zero tolerance policy" ...the Human Resource Director drove her home (was not allowed to drive herself home!!!!!!) and told her she didn't believe the accusations were true and then said if they tested more employees, the results would be shocking and devastating because "many of us drink at night when we go home,you know,to relax"....ahem...no serum was drawn...still, 2 weeks without pay is an extreme price to pay for using mouthwash and foaming one's hands.
    Hmmmmmm.....suspicion...underlying currents of mistrust....goss misjudgements...BE CAREFUL...THE NURSING NAZIS ARE ON PATROL. Not only do they patrol the halls of your employment, they will invade your homelife...YOU VILL COMPLY!!!!!!!!
    HMMM...YOU LOOK DIFFERENT,YOU SMELL DIFFERENT,YOUR CLOTHING IS NOT OF REGULATION...WE "THINK" WE KNOW WHAT YOU DID ON YOUR TIME OFF...
    All of you NAZIs take notice...you are stepping on my BILL OF RIGHTS!!!!!!!!!
  3. by   MollyJ
    Wildhoney
    What you are describing is departmental enabling and it's not rare. Nurses are really good enablers.

    While moodiness can have many causes, it is a frequent complaint of family members and associates of impaired people. When you are chemically dependent, your chemical becomes your #1 coping mechanism and went it is not available, watch out for the mood rollercoaster.

    It also doesn't surprise me that she applied for transfer to the chemical dependency unit. This is called "do it yourself" treatment and it is pretty common. They were correct to refuse her transfer. The other patients need to be protected from her denial; she could do a lot of harm.

    I know none of this is in your hands; you are not the unit manager. Continue to document your concerns with the unit manager AND express your concerns directly to the nurse if you can. (I really worry about you, Mary. Your moods seem so up and down.)

    Suzannasue,
    Breathalyzers don't generate a number, they either are positive or negative. If her breathalyzer was positive, the hospital's approach was not all bad. IF it was negative, they were a little over-reacting. I believe the officers I know who use breathalyzers have a protocol where they wait for a period of time if it is reported that mouthwash was used. Among driving drunks, it is not an uncommon ploy to squirt breath spray into your mouth when you are stopped by a cop and say, "oh officer it's my mouth wash you smell." Since mouth wash is not swallowed (in quantity, except by the desparate), waiting some amount of time will reduce false positives. Of course, the definitive test is a blood alcohol. As an ED nurse I've seen a handful of self-righteous drunks demand a blood alcohol to "prove that rotten cop wrong". Only one suceeded and his was very close to legally drunk. Any intelligent person could see that time elapsed had likely lowered the value enough to make it legal.

    Hospitals and nurses have an interest in responding to concerns about impaired nurses. We have only to look at the Catholic church to see what happens to institutions who don't take complaints of concern seriously. Unfortunately, true and false reports are inevitable. And nurses are not good at this confrontation business, which is often more a series of events than a single event. A nurse who is falsely reported that handles her self with dignity and corrects whatever behavior led others to the impression that she was impaired (maybe coming to work with insufficient sleep OR using mouthwash--just stop with tooth brushing) should come through any procedure just fine.

    We don't do what we do in isolation from the real world.
  4. by   NRSKarenRN
    Remember in all of this discussion, those who choose to use recreational drugs or abuse prescription meds or alcohol prior to work-----------all of the off-shift actions have the POTENTIAL to affect one's on-shift actions and the way one cares for patients.

    The public has a right to expect competency from medical professionals. That is why all states have practice laws condoning this activity.

    If it was YOUR family negatively affected/ harmed by an impaired nurse, doctor or technicians performance what would you do?

    Turning a blinds eye to anyone who regularly comes to work impaired is enabling that person. Who knows if YOUR life may someday be affected by their non-performance when you have a critical incident with a looney patient or family member??
    Documentation of concerns in a non-judgemental ways is imperative in showing pattern of performance and can be used as a wake-up call when discussing employee performance.

    Employee assistance programs have been created to get help vs. immediate expulsion without treatment as practiced in the past. Having had a close family member go through such a program to see them regain a regular satisfying life now 10 years clean and sober is a testiment that it can work.

    ANA link re mandatory drug testing has good info:
    Drug Testing for Health Care Workers
    http://nursingworld.org/readroom/pos...rug/drtest.htm
  5. by   mattsmom81
    I agree Karen. Do nurses today still take the Nightengale pledge to 'refrain from that which is deleterious or mischievous? I took it seriously when I spoke those words...not that I'm perfect in any sense...

    Pot is an illegal substance. Period. If you're gonna play, be prepared to pay...nurses and docs who partake are breaking the law, and should be held accountable. And they are...everywhere but California, apparently...LOL!

    Alcohol is legal so those who compare it to pot have no basis...based on this fact alone: Pot is ILLEGAL.

    And those who look the other way and 'allow' small amounts in the drug screen are in a risky business themselves, IMO.
  6. by   mario_ragucci
    Patients are our number one priority, at least theoriticly. Smokin dope is like one of those "abortion/euthinasia" polarizations. In my opinion, you can tell what is what about a person by their sound, eyes and movements. Man, if I was a nurse and came in hung over, well, that would be a sick day. You can't give patient care on drugs.

    In some situation, if you pop positiveon a piss test, you could be sent to CC (corrective custidy). Few people tried to smoke their way out of the service because of custidy and the pisstest.
  7. by   MollyJ
    Originally posted by tapper
    For those who abstain from enjoying a little reefer due to the damaging effects it MIGHT have on the lungs . . . enjoy a "brownie" with your glass of milk ;-)
    Tapper, this is the kind of counter-intellectualism I see in my middle schoolers. I assume your telling me there's no proof that smoked marijuana is harmful. Well, I can certainly agree that the jury's not in yet. There certainly is not the body of conclusive and crushing proof we have in some 40+ years of tobacco research.

    Simulataneously I would challenge marijuana proponents to explain to me why it wouldn't have similar harms. It contains similar and often the same products of combustion of tobacco smoke (CO and many other chemicals, many of which are carcinogens). Increasingly research implicates these products of combustion in cardiovascular changes due to tobacco smoking. It contains tar, probably in greater quantities than tobacco smoking. Some research has said that a joint contains tar equivalent to 4 or 5 tobacco cigarettes. Composition wise, the addictive component in tobacco is nicotine, the main psychoative/addictive component in marijuana is THC. I'm having trouble distinguishing why marijuana wouldn't have a health impact.

    Historically, people smoked tobacco occasionally and sporadically with fewer associated health benefits (the problems are dose related, is what we're saying). That changed with mass production and mass advertising. Legalized marijuana would likely see similar efforts. The tobacco companies have trademarked names ALREADY in anticipation of legalization. By the year 2040, we'll have the same crushing mass of research about marijuana smoking but do we really have to wait for the proof; can't we just put 2 + 2 together UNLESS we find out different?
  8. by   wildhoney
    Originally posted by MollyJ
    Wildhoney
    What you are describing is departmental enabling and it's not rare. Nurses are really good enablers.

    While moodiness can have many causes, it is a frequent complaint of family members and associates of impaired people. When you are chemically dependent, your chemical becomes your #1 coping mechanism and went it is not available, watch out for the mood rollercoaster.

    It also doesn't surprise me that she applied for transfer to the chemical dependency unit. This is called "do it yourself" treatment and it is pretty common. They were correct to refuse her transfer. The other patients need to be protected from her denial; she could do a lot of harm.

    I know none of this is in your hands; you are not the unit manager. Continue to document your concerns with the unit manager AND express your concerns directly to the nurse if you can. (I really worry about you, Mary. Your moods seem so up and down.)
    Yes, that's a very good idea about addressing her directly. I was actually thinking about that the other day. All of a sudden (after being so sullen all morning long) she was on a high. She started goofing around and laughing with everyone. It was so manic that I almost wanted to say something to her about it. After squirting my legs with a water bottle and walking by me and hitting my hair in the back, and accidentally hitting my neck-- I confronted her with a serious look and said "if I were you I wouldn't do that again." Her reply was "oh yeah" as she flipped the other side of my hair. Of course the the next day (yesterday) she ignored me--everyone said Happy b-day to me, gave me a cake and gifts. : ) Not her, she didn't even smile to me. I'm wondering if I instilled some kind of sobering moment in her....I did say "moment." I guess I have to call her out. It will probably be the best thing for her...ultimately.

    So you're right, I'm getting to the point of being sick of it. It's beyond playing and goofiness now.

    Thanks for your intelligent opinion. I'm a bit thick and too nice at times, it takes me awhile to see things sometimes. Hearing it from someone else kinda gave me a reality smack.
  9. by   hapeewendy
    I think we have beaten this topic to death like a drunken, or high horse.

    I agree with many of you on your views and find myself directly in the middle opinion wise.

    pot is illegal, ppl shouldnt smoke it and come to work all high etc, - true

    however smoking tobacco and alcohol and whatever else we do to harm ourselves shouldnt be tolerated either

    if nurses are gonna be held to some high moral standard then it needs to apply across the board
    not just to the pot smokers in the profession

    I dont smoke, rarely if ever drink , and dont do drugs , so I'm not "Defending" the behaviour because I partake it in ........

    is it easier for us all to conform to some strict moral code or is it easier to just legalize pot so we can throw away the "well pot is illegal, alcohol and cigaretters are not" arguement alltogether?

    basically it comes down to individual choice
    its your license, if you value it dont do anything that could make you potentially lose it
    personally I dont have much time and energy to be running intervention programs for co workers who may smoke pot on their weekend off.....

    the one that wildhoney described with the drinking problem really needs an intervention of sorts thats for sure.......
  10. by   wildhoney
    background info...

    In addition-- this person comes in hung... and she has to because she was spoken to about her attendance. Not good. This person comes in red, shaking and smelling like alcohol (mixed with perfume and mints!! ugh!).

    I can't believe the establishment I work for would accept this type of behavior when they're so strict about everything else...like punctuality, attendance, taking breaks and returning on time, etc. It's amazing.

    I know it's hard for her. She comes from a family of drug addicts and alcoholics. Her brother (who she took in off the streets of L.A. last year, his last year alive..luckily.. I actually found him a cheap place to live that she could afford until the state kicked in) who was a drug addict, had hep and AIDS. I would have conversations with this woman where she would tell me how she was so upset her brother was drinking again. Finally in Feb. he drank a huge amount of alcohol and his body just gave out. She went to pick him up for dinner to celebrate her b-day, and she found him. I think his liver shut down before AIDS claimed him.. or it was a combination of the two diseases. In a way it was suicide, but I have no idea what was stated on the death certificate. I'm afraid to ask her. His family disowned him because he was gay, had AIDS, and was a drug addict. It was only her, his sis who took care of him. It was her enabling that didn't help him-- but she can't understand that because of her problem. In a way she helped but yet hurt him at the same time. I can't say I would do things differently if he were my brother, because you don't know how you'll react in that serious of a situation. I just know I would try hard to get him into some kind of program, no matter what he said or tried to do about it. He was a really nice guy too. He just felt like a major burden to society. I guess now he's at rest. I feel really bad for these people because a lot of them have had hard lives--with major problems growing up, and I'm sure we could all think of a few of those. I can't judge these people, I just feel bad and want to understand. I just think (learning this now) that sometimes we have to be tough on these people or nothing can change for the better. Then I think, it's none of my business, but here it is crossing my path. Anyway, in conclusion : )......

    I reallly liked how his mother wanted the body sent home before cremation...so she could see him one last time. She paid all that money to ship him home! Where was she when he needed a mother? Now my co-worker feels terrible for her mother so she sends her jewelry all the time...real stones I'm talking. Oh, look what i got for my mom...yeah, she's had it hard so I want to cheer her up. I want to scream! Well, I can't smack her.

    During the funeral and cleaning up his apt. she was doing well. Everyone was so proud of her, how she wasn't drinking. I didn't say anything because I knew it was the calm before the storm. Looks as if I was right, these last few weeks have been bad.

    Sorry to bring you all down--but since we're on the subject ; ) I thought I would share. I know there are many people out there going through the same things and everyone has a story to tell. I'm not alone. But you know something, besides the alcohol and drug problems, it's HIV/AIDS that really bothers me. When I see all the babies and children who are orphaned because of it, I just want to cry. To me that is the worst part of it. I'm sure we've all heard the latest statistics on this, and what's going on in Africa. It's really sad, sometimes I want to jump into the middle of it all, but I have two kids to raise first. That's priority. I just have to stick to small acts of kindness. : )

    Now I'm thinking.
  11. by   wildhoney
    Originally posted by hapeewendy


    is it easier for us all to conform to some strict moral code or is it easier to just legalize pot so we can throw away the "well pot is illegal, alcohol and cigaretters are not" arguement alltogether?

    I understand some people may need pot for medicinal use. But for gods sake I hope they legalize it for everyone.

    I've smoked pot before and it turned me into jelly! I couldn't imagine working in a hospital while stoned....let alone driving in a car to get there!

    Shall we start a thread about the cloning issue next?
    Last edit by wildhoney on Apr 13, '02
  12. by   Doey
    Wildhoney, check your BON. In my state a RN is required to report anyone who may be, by their behavior etc. practicing under the influence of alcohol or drugs. My facility also has a "fit for duty" policy that describes some of the behavior that must be reported and the smell of alcohol on someone is one of them. It isn't a pleasant thing to do but first and foremost we have a duty to protect our patients. Also, at least in my state, if harm were to come to a patient because of someone's impairment by drugs or alcohol and it was found that others were aware of this, they too are liable. Secondly, the person involved will be given the chance for some help. This could be the "bottom" so to speak and be the turning point for change.
    Your co-worker definitely has had a hard life from what you have written and probably has experienced things you will never know. But I think you're right when you say we have to be tough sometimes for things to change or we become the enabler. Good luck.
  13. by   mother/babyRN
    You know, I haven't ever had any inclination to try pot BUT, should I be chastised for having a drink of wine on my day off...What you do when you aren't working should be your business, as long as it does NOT interfere with work...Invasive testing without policies established smacks of big brother to me...And those nurses who smoke-what about them? They shouldn't be allowed in the facility either? EVEN if they confine their smoking to their own time????I have a real problem with this unless there was a specific method to prove, down to the minute, when the pot was ingested AND with nursing the way it is these days, I cannot imagine any nurse finding the time or occasion on duty, to do it...

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