Nurses and other healthcare staff smoking alongside patients!?!

  1. 2
    I Just have a rant...

    I am sick and tired of having to be bombarded with the scent of smoke in the psychiatric facility I currently work at. Where used to work, granted it was a med-psych unit and not an entire facility, no smoking was allowed... period. Not by the patients and definitely not by the staff. In fact, if staff member did smoke, they had to walk to a designated unsheltered area that was about 200 feet away from the building. Patients got the patch, but nothing more.

    Now I work in a behavioral health hospital and which treats children all the way to the geriatric population. Everyone besides those on the child/adolescent units are allowed to smoke. We don't have designated smoking times and it is really up to staff deiscretion how often and when they let patients smoke in the designated patio areas. My issue is that I am subjected to the smell all the time and on one unit there is a backdraft that they say they are working on and I literally feel like I'm smoking.

    My charge nurse got upset with me one day because we had a patient with severe muscular dystrophy who would have had a hard time holding her cigarette on her own. The charge asked me to sit out on the patio with her and assist because she feared this patient would burn herself. I respectfully refused. She was surprised, especially because I am usually very helpful. I simply told her that it was not part of my job description to cause harm to my lungs, especially considering I have asthma, just because a patient needed to smoke. I don't understand why this patient could not have had a doctors order for a nicotine patch when smoking was not something she could do without the assistance of staff. She couldn't argue with me and she didn't.

    Then the other problem is that at least 60-70% of all the nurses in the facility smoke. This does NOT include other healthcare staff. I think this is ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, there are many bad vices we all have that really shouldn't be since we are in the business of health promotion, but to me smoking really stands out because it affects everyone around you. It is quite unfair that I have to be prepared to use my pump at work because of the smoking. My asthma is usually not that bad and it only really affects me during spring time. I am in the process of filing a complaint because at the end of the day as I see it, If i do get an asthma attack related to the smoking that is an on the job injury...

    That's my rant...
    Blanca R and Joe V like this.

  2. Enjoy this?

    Join thousands and get our weekly Nursing Insights newsletter with the hottest, discussions, articles, and toons.

  3. Poll: How concerned are you with co-workers who smoke?

    • Highly Concerned

      23.81% 15
    • Somewhat Concerned

      11.11% 7
    • Minimally Concerned

      12.70% 8
    • Don't Care

      52.38% 33
    63 Votes
  4. 75 Comments...

  5. 3
    Hmmm...I guess I had wrongly assumed that most health care facilities had gone smoke free...

    You may have to consider changing jobs because I have a sense that your facility will not give your complaint the time of day.
    mmm333, lindarn, and kids like this.
  6. 3
    Tough situation, everything here is smokefree, anyone who wants to smoke has to leave hospital property, I love it! File your complaint and see what happens but I would start looking for another job in case they don't do anything, I have asthma as well and I wouldn't risk my health.
    mmm333, R.N.Sandra, and lindarn like this.
  7. 2
    I hear you guys. Getting another job isn't a problem, thankfully, I actually have multiple prn ones as I am in nursing school. The only reason I wanted to work there was for the hands on psych experience because, let me tell, the experience is immense there. It sucks though. I never knew there were faclities thaqt were not smoke free until I started working there.
    mmm333 and lindarn like this.
  8. 6
    Just like a hospital doesn't have to hire someone who is overweight, tattooed, don't have to work at one that allows smoking.

    You can file a complaint but since they allow smoking it will probably fall on deaf ears. I'd seek another position. refusing to assist a patient in a policy protected activity can be viewed as insubordination by the nursing staff. I'd tread lightly. A work realted injury? No, I'm afraid it isn't.

    I am sorry you are going through this good luck in nursing school.
  9. 2
    Smoking is not a policy protected activity. In fact, we are constantly reminded by administration to remind the patients that smoking is a privilege, not a right, that is at the sole discretion of the nursing staff. This information is posted as well. There have been many a shift where no smoke breaks were given be it because of multiple codes occuring and no time, being understaffed or non-compliance with treatment by the patients. However, staff members who do smoke will definitely make sure patients get smoke break, and multiple ones too, because it allows them all the smoking time they wish without going on break.
    mmm333 and lindarn like this.
  10. 2
    Quote from sweetpei
    however, staff members who do smoke will definitely make sure patients get smoke break, and multiple ones too, because it allows them all the smoking time they wish without going on break.
    unquestionably, this is not only jeopardizing the patients health but the non-smoker staff. needless to say, this is absurd for the simply reason that someone who probably doesn't smoke, has to look after the patients of the nurse that is out on a cigarette break, and to make matters worse the staff encourages patients to smoke in order to get a smoke break absolutely ridiculous. in addition, your facility is correct smoking is a privilege, a privilege to damage ones health and those around them. therefore, for this reason alone if you're a non-smoker you shouldn't seek employment at this facility.
    KelRN215 and lindarn like this.
  11. 4
    I suggest you find another job.

    I understand your dislike the smoking but you are employed were it is allowed.

    Honestly, you come on a bit on about the rabid side of it. Sticking a patch on it doesn't fix it. The only fix is the person wants to quit.

    In some ways it is cruel to deprieve someone of smoking when it is still within their rights.

    Smoking is a horrid habit and it would be a wonderful world if it didn't exist.

    Unfortunately it does.

    I smoked for near 27 years and have been a non-smoker coming up on three years now.

    It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
    mmm333, anotherone, FORTHELOVEOF!!!!, and 1 other like this.
  12. 3
    Quote from ruas61
    i smoked for near 27 years and have been a non-smoker coming up on three years now.

    it was one of the hardest things i have ever done.
    i come from a european country that even to this day smoking is allowed most everywhere. in addition, my family still smokes like a chimney, before meals, after meals, in between etc. for this same reason i usually stay in a nearby hotel. admittedly, like yourself i use to smoke and i do agree with you 100% smoking a difficult habit to quit, and only if the individual wants to quit the outcome is successful. i been smoke-free since 1984, without any relapse and in order not to gain any weight like the fear of most individuals, i hit the gym which is my new habit. moreover, i felt like a hypocrite when i advise my friends of the dangers of smoking, in other words i was preaching with my pants down
    Last edit by GitanoRN on Jun 4, '12
    mmm333, jh56031, and lindarn like this.
  13. 2
    I faced a similar problem when I worked at an urban hospital's psych floor about ten years ago. They started with q 1 hour smoking for the patients, indoors, usually, but not always, supervised by staff who smoked. Then they got a special air cleaner that just pushed the dirty air above the drop-ceiling. Then they made all smoking outdoors, but some of the non-smokers like myself rebelled because of the risk of patients eloping. Finally, there was a month or so transition where smoking was stopped, and miraculously the sky did NOT fall. I always thought that the biggest problem wasn't smoking or not smoking, but patient A sees patient B smoking and wants to know why they can't, too. Once the smoking ban was set, there really wasn't a problem.

    Ask the management to see a written policy on smoking; document everything and I do mean EVERYTHING concerning this issue, sending letters up the chain of command letting them know your medical situation. Contrary to another responder here, it most certainly IS potentially a medical disability issue for you.

    I just remembered--ask your supervisor for the Material Safety Data Sheets relative to second hand carcinogens. All institutions that receive federal funding must keep info on dangerous substances you come in contact with, and must make you aware of all of them, and what they do to decrease your exposure. This will be sure to set them into a tizzy.

    It disturbs me sometimes that some nurses get caught up in a martyrdom syndrome that makes them think that they are obligated to sacrifice their own health to be a good nurse. So, no, I don't think you are "rabid" about the issue.
    KelRN215 and lindarn like this.

Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.