When we ourselves need help

  1. 1
    I'm filling in for a co-worker who suddenly and without warning went on a leave of absence. We have been informed by family she was 5150'd and is now going to a 30 day inpatient treatment program for depression and SI. She showed absolutely zero signs of this at work, and in fact, is one of the more cheerful and helpful people around here. She is an RN with many years experience. This is devastating to all of us.

    We are a tiny group and very close like family, and we are concerned for her license. Everyone seems to think a 5150 puts your RN license up for review. We can't get a straight answer from the CA BON. Now I'm also hearing a 5150 puts you on a "no fly" list!

    Has anyone heard of these two consequences for being 5150'd?

    This opens up a lot of thoughts about the mental health system. Of course we know it is very broken, but I'm GOBSMACKED to think your professional license and ability to fly would be impacted for a 5150.

    Is getting help really this punitive? I'm shocked to think how many people, especially licensed professionals, DON'T seek help for fear of these consequences. How is an endangered license and inability to fly helpful to someone in a crisis like that? It doesn't make sense. I'm disgusted at the way this system works, if this is true.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
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  3. 19 Comments so far...

  4. 7
    There are states that have mandatory reporting for licensed professionals that deal with the public....so yes they can, they will and they do. California does has mandatory reporting for nurses who seek treatment for substance issues as well as mental health issues.

    Sad isn't it.....we will protect everyone but our own.
  5. 17
    It's no wonder so many nurses go without the medications and/or therapy they need. It's pitiful in this day and age that mental illness still carries such a stigma.
    Lucky724, MBARNBSN, twinkletoes53, and 14 others like this.
  6. 10
    I'm sure it was shocking to learn of this nurse's issues, especially in view of the fact that she had to be 5150'd rather than going inpatient voluntarily. I remember when it happened to a nurse at the hospital where I used to work; one day she was working on the floor, going about her business, then two days later she was strapped to a bed in one of our psych rooms, screaming obscenities and thrashing around while staff tried to get an IV in. How absolutely humiliating........I'd have never shown my face on that floor again after having my co-workers see me like that. But she did; once she went through an intensive inpatient stay at another hospital and took a leave of absence, she was well enough to work again. So, she's a 5150 success story.

    The thing is, none of us would've ever thought we'd see her in such a state, because she "presented well". She could be moody, to be sure, and sometimes she was downright nasty to the less experienced nurses. But mentally ill, on the edge of a nervous breakdown? Never would've guessed it.

    A lot of nurses with mental health issues, and indeed people you meet on the street, present well. Our illnesses percolate just below the surface while we maintain a "normal" appearance and demeanor. We are high-functioning, capable, personable, and we carry out our responsibilities just like everyone else does........but always at a cost. It is tremendously stressful trying to fit in and pretending that we don't have to work twice as hard as others do just to get through the minutiae of everyday life. But at least for a while, it's worth all the blood, sweat, and tears to be able to blend in with the crowd.

    I'll never forget the reaction of the first person outside of family that I told about my diagnosis last year. She was so surprised, she literally almost fell off her chair. "You? Bipolar?? But you're always so calm and cool.......are you SURE they diagnosed you correctly?" She couldn't believe it. But she didn't know how hard I'd had to fight my demons in order to hide them from the world, nor did she recognize how close I'd been to losing it completely. If I'd gone on much longer, I might have suffered the same fate as my onetime co-worker; luckily I never had to find out, as I got help before disaster struck.

    However you slice it, a 5150 is never a good thing to have on your record, and I feel for this nurse because she's going to be OK one of these days, and yet will likely pay for this for the rest of her days. I hadn't heard that about the 'no-fly' rule........sheesh, is the TSA overreacting or what? But she's going to have a fight ahead of her to keep her nursing license, and that's a shame. She has my sympathies.
    Lucky724, LTCNS, sapphire18, and 7 others like this.
  7. 0
    We aren't really in control of everything and we cannot blame someone for being ill...mentally ill!Same as this nurse do!Hope she can get more support rather that judgment! and recover as soon as possible
  8. 2
    I really hope that some improvements will be done because nurses are also humans so they can suffer depression as well.
    wish_me_luck and TeleRN44 like this.
  9. 3
    I've been involuntarily admitted before; so far it hasn't had an impact on my license. The no fly thing sounds like a myth. Maybe if someone was homicidal, but suicidal? No. Good thoughts for your friend.
    Lucky724, wish_me_luck, and KelRN215 like this.
  10. 0
    Obviously, this issue is handled differently in each state. Some states may have much more harsh consequences.
  11. 5
    If you Google "5150 no fly", the first and only true match is this thread. The next one is about fly fishing. So I'm saying that's likely a myth.
    Lucky724, Altra, VivaLasViejas, and 2 others like this.
  12. 1
    Quote from mclennan
    Is getting help really this punitive? I'm shocked to think how many people, especially licensed professionals, DON'T seek help for fear of these consequences. How is an endangered license and inability to fly helpful to someone in a crisis like that? It doesn't make sense. I'm disgusted at the way this system works, if this is true.
    Please note there is a big difference between "getting help" and having to be petitioned for involuntary commitment. If your colleague had voluntarily sought help, it would be an entirely different matter (at least it would in every state in which I've ever practiced). When someone has to be committed against their will into psychiatric treatment, in every state I'm aware of, the grounds have to include being acutely dangerous to oneself and/or others and refusing to enter treatment voluntarily. Each state has its own rules and regulations; I've been in five different states over the years, and I don't think any of them had rules that an involuntary commitment automatically affected your license. But involuntary commitment is public record, and does have lasting consequences (like losing your right to buy and/or own guns).
    Last edit by elkpark on Jan 28, '13
    Altra likes this.


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