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Feeling bad, like I "ratted out" a nurse

The other night, the day shift nurse who was leaving looked rather "off"....glazed eyes, appeared unsteady, had a general "stoned" look. When I asked her if she was OK, she said she had taken 1/4 of a benzo that morning, and she still "felt" it. Keep in mind that this was at 2300 when we spoke. This RN has a lot of seniority, and is well respected. Another colleague noticed her odd behavior, and agreed that something was "off".

I ended up letting the supervisor know, because overall, it did not sit right with me.

But now I feel badly. Could 1/4 of a benzo really leave someone looking like that 12 hours later? Would you have done the same in telling your supervisors?

Edited by Ginger80
personl info

Lovely_RN, MSN

Has 11 years experience.

Don't feel bad. A person with a tolerance for benzos isn't going to be snowed by taking a 1/4 of a benzo. What is 1/4 of a benzo anyway? Is it part of a "stick" of Xanax? I have only heard of Xanax being broken up like that but I guess it could have been anything. In any event the nurse was under the influence of something and was a danger to her patients. You would be surprised sometimes the co-worker you least suspect has the biggest monkey on their back.

Whispera, MSN, RN

Specializes in psych, addictions, hospice, education.

If she looked unsteady and "stoned," no matter how much of a benzo she took, she shouldn't be responsible for the care of patients. You did a good thing as patient advocate. The supervisor can make the decision on what to do about it.

I also don't believe she just took a small dose, early that morning...

Some might say maybe it was a one-time thing and she should be cut some slack, but I think the patients she cares for, are at risk this one time.

Edited by Whispera

i def. would not have told my supervisor assuming she is "well respected" and that this was a one time thing where no harm was done. was patient care compromised? has she done this before?

had it happened a second time i would be concerned, but the fact that she told you what she did leads me to believe she wasn't hiding anything. i just don't see a reason to tell on someone because they "looked funny." i'm sure ppl will disagree, but that's just not my style.

Gold_SJ

Specializes in Paediatrics. Has 5 years experience.

Ah... I guess that is up to your personal choice, if someone generally appears tireder then normal I really wouldn't warrant that a call to the supervisor. People are prescribed a variety of medications to manage illness. Some have symptoms where they don't have a similar affect as normal. More flat, tired, glazed. Thing is, was it impacting her care? If she still worked like normal and got her duties done in a competent manner I don't think its anything to worry about, let alone report, particulary considering she told you why.

However if it did to your personal belief impact client care, or you didn't believe it was a benzo but an illegal drug, then you have every right to speak with a supervisor and it being looked into.

:) Really one can speak to their supervisor about any concern, it just depends on your own moral beliefs and judgement on if you did the right thing. Don't stress about it too much, if it's prescribed there's nothing your co-worker has to worry about other then maybe some awkward questions.

Don't feel bad....you did the right thing. It doesn't mean you "ratted her out," it means you were looking out for the well-being of the patients, AKA doing your job!

It doesn't mean you were intentionally trying to make a hard time for her--you had a clearer head than her and this seemed out of character of her. Kind of like tough love...what's best for her and everyone was for her to not be at work under that state, so imo you did the right thing.

Just imagine if something would have happened, and she would have made a terrible error....then you would be wishing right now you had spoken up.

But to each his own...honestly, I probably wouldn't have told a supervisor because of my bottom of the food chain position. I am in no positon to judge the state of others based on my perception of them.

Edited by wishfulthinking21059

we have no idea i she was "snowed" or if the OP had a "clearer head."

just two nights ago i had a patient point out that i looked really tired even though i wasn't aware that i looked tired. i had been unusually exhausted just bc i had a lot going on at home, but i didn't think it showed. i would hate to think i would be reported on a hunch that i was "too tired" to do my job even though i performed my duties as usual with no exception other than LOOKING tired (or snowed, or not of a clear head, etc) depending on who was interested enough to size me up.

I probably shouldn't have said anything. My gut was telling me to say something though. And the fact that another colleague was worried about this nurse reinforced it. What's done is done, we'll see what happens.

smily nurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in Women's Health. Has 38 years experience.

The other night, the day shift nurse who was leaving looked rather "off"....glazed eyes, appeared unsteady, had a general "stoned" look. When I asked her if she was OK, she said she had taken 1/4 of a benzo that morning, and she still "felt" it. Keep in mind that this was at 2300 when we spoke. This RN has a lot of seniority, and is well respected. Another colleague noticed her odd behavior, and agreed that something was "off".

I ended up letting the supervisor know, because overall, it did not sit right with me.

But now I feel badly. Could 1/4 of a benzo really leave someone looking like that 12 hours later? Would you have done the same in telling your supervisors?

Actually it is your responsiblity to report her. If you didn't and it came out that you knew, there was an issue, you also are in hot water. Why are we so afraid to report illegal behaviors???

Gold_SJ

Specializes in Paediatrics. Has 5 years experience.

I'm sure everything will work out just fine. Try not to stress about it ok? You can't take back the past and if you truly felt something was wrong then that is the time you discuss things with your superiors.

After all you weren't doing it to get her in trouble, by the sounds you were just concerned over her wellbeing. Maybe her medication dosages have been changed or she's symptomatic and goes flat in affect after a benzo for twenty-four hours. Who knows really, the superiors can find out pretty quickly I'm sure whether she's unwell, or its normal and not for anyone to worry about, concerning her patient care.

I doubt she'll hold you in ill-will if you were only worried about her and the residents. You weren't reporting it in an accusatory or demeaning manner after all.

Actually it is your responsiblity to report her. If you didn't and it came out that you knew, there was an issue, you also are in hot water. Why are we so afraid to report illegal behaviors???

i'm not afraid to report illegal behaviors. i just don't like getting people in trouble based on a complete and utter ASSUMPTION of illegal behaviors. do you think if this nurse was illegally taking benzos that she would've disclosed the word "benzo"? she would've said - "i'm tired" or "my allergies are acting up" or SOMETHING other than mentioning a medication so openly. of course, that's another assumption.

would i keep my eyes and ears open on the next shift to see if this nurse appeared impaired? definitely. would i have jeapordized her reputation and job based on a hunch? absolutely not. why? because i'd expect the same benefit of the doubt - assuming that NOTHING BAD HAPPENED - which it didn't.

Gold_SJ

Specializes in Paediatrics. Has 5 years experience.

Actually it is your responsiblity to report her. If you didn't and it came out that you knew, there was an issue, you also are in hot water. Why are we so afraid to report illegal behaviors???

^.^;; Well I don't know if appearing sleepy or blank is an illegal behaviour (After all it happens regularly to myself), but of course if the OP is worried any person may bring a concern to higher management just to ensure everythings ok.

What if she said she took half a benadryl to help her sleep and it was still making her tired hours later. What if she said she took 5 hour energy and had alot of nervouse energy, a darvacet for for extreme cramps or back pain. My point is many nurses are on legal medications. Being tired comes from working 12 hours also. We not only have a job, we have jobs at home. I have seen nurses look so tired they looked drunk. They got there job done, they did their work well. They pay the dear price on their own bodies. I personally would have talked to her about it before saying something to the supervisor. This incident does not make her an addict or a irresponsible nurse.. Appearently she felt comfortable with telling you what added to her feeling so tired. I don't like the way it was handled. If she has a prescription from the M.D., and all the facts are presented, she could actually file a slander suit against those who destroy her reputation.

NurseLoveJoy88, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC. Has 6 years experience.

Patient safety is number one. If she is able to function safely as a nurse with taking prescribed 1/4 benzo then so be it. It is very hard to say whether you did the right thing or not because we were not there to assess the situation or how the nurse looked. Your perception of looking "stoned" may differ from others perceptions. Its over and done with now. I do believe you had great intentions OP and did not do this to be malice. In that sense you should not feel bad at all. I hope everything works out for the other nurse. Us nurses do need to stick together.

systoly

Specializes in LTC, Memory loss, PDN. Has 23 years experience.

Beware of the GESTAPO! ;)

I have reported, as well as sent home, staff who was under the influence, however, not until after discussing it with those staff members and telling them upfront that I felt it was my duty to report this. It is always difficult to clearly depict a particular situation in a forum, but given the information above, I'd distance myself.

sweetnurse63, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC, Med-Surge, Ortho. Has 7 years experience.

The last time I saw a nurse unsteady on his feet, he was investigated and it was determined that he was stealing and using naracotics. I'm not in judgement of no one but I do not believe that it is safe practice for a nurse to be unsteady on his or her feet. I have allergies but I will not take medicine that will make me drowsy at the start of my shift. Patient care comes first.

sweetnurse63, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC, Med-Surge, Ortho. Has 7 years experience.

First of all, i don't believe that ginger80 was assuming anything, she noticed odd behavior, for example; "unsteady on feet"appparently there was a reason for the nurse behavior. If it is determined that a benzo would make her act like that, then it needs to be addressed. I don't know of any nurses that i have worked with who were unsteady on their feet unless they were ill and were ready to pass out, or the one nurse that I worked with who displayed the same symptoms only later to be found that he was using drugs.

Gold_SJ

Specializes in Paediatrics. Has 5 years experience.

The last time I saw a nurse unsteady on his feet, he was investigated and it was determined that he was stealing and using naracotics. I'm not in judgement of no one but I do not believe that it is safe practice for a nurse to be unsteady on his or her feet. I have allergies but I will not take medicine that will make me drowsy at the start of my shift. Patient care comes first.

I can't say I'd think it right for a nurse to be unsteady on their feet, although again this is a matter of perception. However some people have daily medications to take by medical orders and you can't just not take them (as you say by not taking your allergy medications).

I'm just saying this nurse appears to be taking medication as prescribed by a doctor and just because a person appears tired doesn't mean they are incapable or impaired in their work. Wouldn't it be awful if people judged us every time we've had a rough sleep the night before, or our pet dog died and we'd been crying half the day as incapable of working?

This situation just isn't that black and white, of take a medication don't come to work (make you tireder or not. It's the MD's call on if you can function at work). Millions of people are taking prescribed medications and working all over the world.

On the other hand the OP to me just seems like a very caring person, who noticed something unusual and went to a superior. Not because they wanted to hurt this nurse nor her reputation but just so she was looking out for her residents care and this other respected nurse. Which isn't wrong, sure she could of gave the other nurse the benefit of the doubt but hey maybe she is on narcotics or working unsafely. Supervisors are suppose to look out for their team members so you'd assume it'd be dealt with privately and kindly (God willing the place is blessed with a just supervisor), I'd think they'd just enquire over how she is and she was seeming tireder the other day and it'll just smooth out. In my guess anyway.

Edited by Gold_SJ

MassED, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 15 years experience.

my first thought is, how stupid is she for #1 coming to work, and #2 admitting that. What a fool.

MassED, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 15 years experience.

i def. would not have told my supervisor assuming she is "well respected" and that this was a one time thing where no harm was done. was patient care compromised? has she done this before?

had it happened a second time i would be concerned, but the fact that she told you what she did leads me to believe she wasn't hiding anything. i just don't see a reason to tell on someone because they "looked funny." i'm sure ppl will disagree, but that's just not my style.

the thing is, by not saying anything, you're assuming this is "just this one time" or just because someone is "well respected" that you're again, assuming patient safety isn't at risk? You're just burying your head in the sand, not wanting to get involved, let someone else handle it... either way, NOT taking a stand is meaning you're then complicit if something goes wrong with this nurse by knowing something was "off" and not reporting it. It's not about who you know, or popularity, or jeopardizing your job... it's about doing the right thing for patient care. Regardless of this person's stand at work/in the workplace/their position.

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