Regarding the "impaired nurse", referring to
Having 'been there, done that' is, unfortunately my only point of reference for this reply. For 12 years I "partied" with my
PICU co-workers, always indulging in my drug of choice, alcohol. As stress took it's toll
my abuse of this substance increased....and everyone I worked with KNEW it. Yet they waited until I showed up at work one night reeking of alcohol and in charge of our 18 bed unit to call our supervisor at home to
confront me, test my blood alcohol, and send me home to wait for the results. The results
were below a level that would be cause for
any disciplinary or corrective action, and I went back to work.....with no one talking about the incident. My supervisor asked me the night I was sent home if I had a problem with alcohol abuse...I said "no" (as anyone with an abuse problem would say) and that was the end of it.
I subsequently went into a deeper depression
became suicidal and finally entered a treatment center by my own choice. I was appalled at the number of nurses who were in-patients at this facility....both for substance abuse and depression. I will never cease to be amazed that my co-workers, with whom I had worked and been friends for 12 years could not bring themselves to come to me personally and state their concerns that I might have a problem with alcohol abuse....and that my Supervisor was totally shocked....after 12 years!
I have been searching for articles related to this problem among nurses, in order to present it as an inservice to my co-workers, to no avail. This is a serious and rampant problem in our profession and it is being "swept under the rug".
One cannot apply to be a clerk in a convience store without submitting to a drug screen, yet NO hospital I have worked in for 23 years has ever demanded this of their nurses. Why? I personally believe it's because there would not be enough nurses drug-free to satisfy their staffing needs.
I would really be interested in hearing from those of you who know or suspect that your co-workers (or even yourself) may use addictive substances. Ever hear..."I need a drink" after a particularly gruelling or harrowing shift?
And by the way...This month I am celebrating 2 years of sobriety.