Sleeping on The Job?

  1. Hi, I had the privilege of orienting a new traveling nurse to our unit on night shift. On my second day with her I noticed at the beginning of the shift after she finished her assessment ( she had only one patient) she was falling asleep during her charting. We still paper chart on this unit. This continued throughout the shift, At first I thought she just was not use to the night shift but something was not right. She nodded off all night until 7:00 a.m! I let my supervisor know what happened and went home. After I thought about it she may have been high on something. Do the Travel nurses have to take a drug screen? I am worried that this may happen again at another job she may go to. Does anyone have suggestions in what I should have done differently? Thanks for your input.
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   RN BSN 2009
    Usually means immediate termination around these parts!
  4. by   nurse4theplanet
    I would not necessarily jump to conclusions. This was definitely an issue that needed to be addressed immediately. I think you were right in notifying the NM. The only thing that I would have suggested was to notify the charge nurse and send this traveler home for the evening. She was in no condition to be caring for pts...even if she was only orienting. After that, she is the NM's problem. Just make sure you keep the patient's safe.
  5. by   RN BSN 2009
    Quote from asoldierswife05
    I would not necessarily jump to conclusions. This was definitely an issue that needed to be addressed immediately. I think you were right in notifying the NM. The only thing that I would have suggested was to notify the charge nurse and send this traveler home for the evening. She was in no condition to be caring for pts...even if she was only orienting. After that, she is the NM's problem. Just make sure you keep the patient's safe.
    Ditto on that, pt safety is #1
  6. by   caliotter3
    Short of kicking her in the shins every 20 minutes during the entire shift, you did what you were responsible for. It sounds as if you would have taken action sooner had the situation warranted it. I have worked night shift for years and have observed outright sleeping night after night with pt neglect which was ignored by supervisory personnel, so I know how hard it is to keep from doing something when it comes to the pts getting the attention they are due. Be careful of this nurse should you encounter her on night shift in the future.
  7. by   Tiwi
    I agree that you had to report your concern to the charge sister. It's jumping the gun a bit to think she was automatically on drugs. There could be extenuating family circumstances etc etc. Regardless of her personal situation meant that you had a lot more responsibility that night than you should have had, and you were put in a potentially dangerous situation, due to this behaviour. I feel for you...
  8. by   KSELRN
    It's possible that the nurse could have narcolepsy... kind of unlikely, but possible! Narcoleptics do fall asleep like that, even if they are completely rested. I have been researching narcolepsy lately, because I think I may have it... and it's very under-diagnosed. I think you did the right thing by reporting her behavior. I am not trying to start an argument, just trying to give other possible reasons this nurse might have been so sleepy.
  9. by   RN2B78
    very good input from everyone kind of somewhat on the same topic... nurses that are travelers...how are they treated in facilities...I have often thought about doing it but in the same breath I wouldnt like to be treated differently due to being a traveler. what do you all think?
  10. by   SmilingBluEyes
    On 12 hour long nightshifts, I hate to admit, being guilty of this very thing. I never did drugs nor did anything to "bring it on" but was just exhausted, period. I think you have done enough; calling attention to it is plenty. Asking about drug testing, a bit over the top. Good luck.
  11. by   meownsmile
    If she was new to this assignment it could be she had been between jobs for a couple weeks and had not had enough sleep the day before. I agree not the good thing to do on orientation though and depending on who was supervising that night she may have been shown the door if the wrong person had walked in and seen her reading her eyelids instead of paying attention at my facility.
  12. by   cherrysky
    You mentioned she's a new travel nurse (at least at your facility), maybe she has jet lag? Jet lag combined with night shift can wreak havoc on your body. If it's a consistent thing maybe it's just because night shift is hard for her. Like another poster mentioned, I wouldn't jump the gun and think that drugs were an issue.

    Let us know how things progress...
  13. by   jennjen512
    I worked as a travel nurse for a while. I did have to do a drug screen at an independent facitily prior to leaving for an assignment. All of the same rules apply to travel nurses as staff nurses as far as pre employment screening. The only difference is the screening are done in an occupational health facility in the travelers home town and kept on file with the travel agency.
  14. by   TheCommuter
    Since this particular thread is over 1 (one) year old, the original poster may or may not be seeking any further suggestions on this issue.

    However, has anyone mentioned undiagnosed narcolepsy?

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