I'd like to ask other OH nurses how your department deals with people found intoxicated at work.
Do you view this as purely a disciplinary matter, hence nothing to do with the OH service? Or do you view the drunken worker as medically inapt, hence the role of the OH department is to intervene?
What do you actually do in the case of a worker clearly under the influence? Who has established policies in place regarding alcohol at work?
As a Health Care Administrator my first responsibility is safety of the unit and I need to get that nurse off the unit. If a nurse is suspected of being under the influence of anything I suspend with pay until an investigation can be completed. This can include having the staff member in question be escorted to the hospital for a drug/ETOH screen. If it goes this far and the employee is under the influence the employee usually quits. I always refer the employee to the employee assistance program as well. I then must contact the state board of nursing if they are under the influence, I allow the nurse to contact first, better chance of nurse not losing their license.
Remember anytime a supervisor/manager becomes aware of an issue such as this it becomes their responsibilty to do something about it or they are not doing their job.
Substance abuse falls under the American Disabilities Act (ADA) so if you have employees that are challenged by these issues and they are willing to improve we must allow for this. Employees should be given the tools to change and time as long as it does not hurt the unit. Its when they make the same mistakes over and over again that you need to worry.
Last edit by Neats on Sep 11, '08
: Reason: Addition Information
As a Health Care Administrator and BSN (new) I can safely say the positions we hold... we all must be above reproach while we are conducting business throughout our shifts.
As someone who would be afraid to see a member of the medical staff drinking at lunch then go to my medical appointment a few hours later and see the same person/people try to assist me with my medical needs. I would not want to have these people touch me or my family members. I really do not care how much time has passed in my mind it is the same day.
From a human resource stand point and you may disagree with what I am about to say but you came back to work after lunch and clocked in. In principle you could have had a BAT test after you clocked in and been under the influence (does not matter how much). What if there was a medical emergency? I know you focused upon the time that passed but again emergencies arise what would have been your explanation then?
Depending upon the policies of your employer and state regulation the HR and your direct supervisor could be correct. I would review the policies if you feel you are in compliance and any supporting documentation to verify your case.
Face it we in the medical arena that hold licenses are held to a higher standard.
I am sorry this happened to you and Thank You for writing this so others may learn about this issue.
As for reporting we are mandated reporters and I must report the occourance to the BON, the assistant administrator was trying to assist you by allowing you to report first.
Last edit by Neats on Feb 14, '09
: Reason: Addition