can a nurse lose license if she have a mental illness?

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    i was just wondering if a nurse seek treatment for their mental illness, can a nurse lose their license?
  2. 5 Comments so far...

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    Quote from wantobern
    i was just wondering if a nurse seek treatment for their mental illness, can a nurse lose their license?
    if you are concerned about this, check with your state's board of nursing.

    as far as i know, losing one's license is based on behavior. you did something you should not have. or, you didn't do something you should have.

    simply having a mental illness is not a behavior.

    having said that, if the mental illness causes the nurse to act in a way that places herself, her patients, or others in an unsafe situation (med errors, drunk driving, other legal difficulties, etc.), there may be grounds for discussion.

    if a nurse finds herself struggling with depression or any other mental condition, the best thing she can do is to seek out a competent and trustworthy practitioner to help her evaluate her condition and consider treatment options. she need not confide in her employer at this stage. hipaa laws should afford her some measure of privacy while she explores both her needs and the possibilities available to fill them.

    depending on the severity of her illness and/or the types of treatment involved, she may, at some point, want to speak with her nurse manager and discreetly share whatever information is necessary. then again, there may be no need to do this. it would depend on what might be visible and questionable to her supervisor/coworkers.

    even when confiding in someone it's best to reveal information on a need-to-know basis. say the nurse is put on a med that initially makes her run to the bathroom once an hour. she can tell the n/m just that--that she's on a med that causes urinary frequency. no need to name the med or say what she's taking it for.

    if the mental illness is something that may be obvious to others, giving a simple, non-apologetic explanation to the n/m might be in order. for instance, if the nurse is struggling with depression, she might tell her supervisor that she has been going through a series of personal events or losses that have motivated her to speak with a therapist. then, if co-workers come to the n/m with comments or complaints that so-and-so doesn't seem like herself lately, the n/m can say that she's aware of the situation and they don't need to worry. again, this would be warranted only if the symptoms of the mental illness would be noticeable on the job.

    to get back to your original question, just having a mental illness is not something that should cost you your license. (good grief, how many of us would lose our jobs if that were the case!) in fact, the americans with disabilities act might afford some protection for anyone who is treated badly because they have an illness of any kind.

    i hope this information is helpful. feel free to ask for more if this doesn't address your concerns.

    i wish you well.
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    rn/writer makes some good points. Nurses are only human and subject to the same human frailties as anyone else. I've struggled with depression all my life from child abuse. Some states ask about mental illnesses on applications and renewals. Texas cut back on what they asked because the information you sent them was part of the public record. Violates your privacy! Let HIPPA sort that one out!!
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    As others have said, having a condition alone would not make you susceptible to losing your license. The way that illness affects you might. If it creates a condition in which you neglect, abuse or fail to properly treat your patients, then it's a problem. I have worked with a number of nurses who have confidentially told me that they are suffering from one mental health condition or another. Many were excellent nurses, and their conditions were so well treated that I would never have known had they not told me. A couple were obviously untreated, and their practice was dangerous. Fortunately, this became apparent pretty early on and they were not kept by my employer.

    One thing that I consider unfortunate is the policy of some hospitals that if the hospital offers a service, the employee is subject to a much lower insurance reimbursement if they go elsewhere. A hospital I worked in had both geriatric and adult/CD mental health units, and two or three of our employees were inpatients on my unit due to financial concerns. The hospital insurance policy paid 100% if they used us, but only 50% if they went to another hospital. With the stigma many still apply to those who undergo inpatient psychiatric treatment, this puts such employees in an awkward position. Even if no one discusses their presence with other employees, a lot of people (unit staff, EKG, radiology, lab, culinary, pharmacy) will become aware of it just by providing services to them.
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    Quote from Orca
    As others have said, having a condition alone would not make you susceptible to losing your license. The way that illness affects you might. If it creates a condition in which you neglect, abuse or fail to properly treat your patients, then it's a problem. I have worked with a number of nurses who have confidentially told me that they are suffering from one mental health condition or another. Many were excellent nurses, and their conditions were so well treated that I would never have known had they not told me. A couple were obviously untreated, and their practice was dangerous. Fortunately, this became apparent pretty early on and they were not kept by my employer.

    One thing that I consider unfortunate is the policy of some hospitals that if the hospital offers a service, the employee is subject to a much lower insurance reimbursement if they go elsewhere. A hospital I worked in had both geriatric and adult/CD mental health units, and two or three of our employees were inpatients on my unit due to financial concerns. The hospital insurance policy paid 100% if they used us, but only 50% if they went to another hospital. With the stigma many still apply to those who undergo inpatient psychiatric treatment, this puts such employees in an awkward position. Even if no one discusses their presence with other employees, a lot of people (unit staff, EKG, radiology, lab, culinary, pharmacy) will become aware of it just by providing services to them.
    I don't know how a hospital can put an employee in a position where they have to choose between true patient confidentiality and financial stress. When my younger son had serious psych problems, the only in-network hospital anywhere close was the hospital where I used to work on the very unit he would have been admitted to. As soon as I told the admissions coordinator about it, he agreed to an out-of-network placement at in-network rates. I didn't even work there any more, but they respected the need for confidentiality and they recognized the potential for problems when my husband and I came in for family groups led by people I knew well.
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    I have not worked at the facility in question for about eight years, and they may have since changed their policy. What was even more puzzling to me about this is that although we were not affiliated with other hospitals for other services, we were part of a mental health network that included two or three other hospitals. I do not understand why these employees could not have gone to one of the other affiliates.


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