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I was accused of being impaired at work

Nurse Attorney   (17,002 Views 43 Comments)
by Lorie Brown RN, MN, JD Lorie Brown RN, MN, JD (Advice Column) Writer Expert Verified

Lorie Brown RN, MN, JD has 30 years experience .

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LC0929 has 13 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Critical Care.

779 Visitors; 42 Posts

Well, alright then....consider this for a quick minute....how many of us have worked with colleagues who were extremely obese and/or close to retirement, and possibly not the first one on the scene of an emergent situation, due to their physical condition? One could argue that they also work “impaired” if they are having a rough day....my point is this....there are enough nurses who have worked and continue to work, GENUINELY impaired....the nurses that are truly addicts.....the ones who, for instance, use a syringe to pull fentanyl out of a patch on a dying patient to feed their addiction....yes, it happens....my question is should all of these nurses be judged and treated the same across the board? I don’t think so.... I firmly believe that addiction and treatment have become big business and that is why they push for IPN or something similar....if the states had to fork over the cash to treat their impaired licensees, I think you hear the brakes squealing throughout the entire country....just my opinion....

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What does "looking impaired" consist of, I ask?  Some of us have a RBF that could conceivably be construed to be that "impaired" look every single day we show up for work.

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Persephone Paige has 15 years experience as a ADN.

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On 6/3/2019 at 5:52 PM, Zaphina said:

The key here is she “APPEARED” impaired. She was not impaired ....her symptoms of her migraine made her look “IMPAIRED” WHICH SHE was not. Symptoms made her look that way...the side effects of having your head crushed by an imaginary bowling ball, and torched with a hot poker in your temple, with an intense light shining in your eye (s) at the same time, ..all while feeling like you might vomit all over the person asking you —are you on drugs-. She took her prescription and sat down to get better.. and someone who apparently has absolutely no pain or discomfort at all... made an erroneous decision to say she was impaired. That is the KEY PEOPLE... and no I am not bitter.... I am someone that suffers with chronic pain in many forms... clearly tired of those that do not know.. telling those of us that do know.. which way to go and what to do when we get there! As the elderly say, do not not speak on something you do not know anything about, you are only showing everyone what an a... you are. The donkey is in the barn.

What I don't think you understand is that the powers that be don't discriminate between appeared impaired and was impaired. If she appeared impaired to the person who reported her and she tests positive for a narcotic, for all intents and purposes, she's impaired. If the drug test supports the report, they have no way to retroactively do a field sobriety test, they will ere on the side of safety. Forget compassion, you are dealing with a corporate world. They look at the bottom line. The amount a patient/patient family could sue for outweighs the puny noise makings of a nurse with a history of migraines. 

When you start thinking like the wolf of Wall Street, then you'll understand where we factor in to this.... we don't.

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LC0929 has 13 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Critical Care.

779 Visitors; 42 Posts

I agree wholeheartedly! Here’s the thing, WE can change things.....I’m speaking for myself and only my colleagues that have similar conversations with me, but I’d bet a months pay that thousands of us feel like we walk on eggshells on a daily basis.  There is no reason for this....the BON is made up of people...nurses....just like US....they even include “public” members to “assure” that EVERYONE is represented....it seems reasonable enough that with our numbers, even if we were to only include those nurses who have been falsely accused of something, that statistically we could command change....I’m 53, so even if there was a demand like this made, I may not see anything significant in my lifetime, however, the young nurses would....if we all continue to sit back and allow this abuse to continue, it will do just that....we, as nurses, are somewhat of our own “population”.....we have the numbers...we also have something so amazing that many never will....because of our relentless pursuit of knowledge and the ability to APPLY that knowledge, even under the worst possible conditions and the ability to FIGHT for a patient’s life, when everything is hopeless,!WE have been given the ability to SAVE LIVES....that is an amazing gift that NO ONE, not even the board, can take away....and that’s precisely what scares them....I’m off track, sorry, but essentially we don’t have to accept their bull****.....WE are Nursing....not the paper pushers....it’s US that make things happen....

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HigginsdogRN has 2 years experience and specializes in Behavioral Health.

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On ‎6‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 11:04 PM, caliotter3 said:

What does "looking impaired" consist of, I ask?  Some of us have a RBF that could conceivably be construed to be that "impaired" look every single day we show up for work.

Exactly. I have Ocular Rosacea and migraine with aura. My eyes get really dry and red at work under the horrible florescent lighting. I am not impaired but constantly fear the possibility of suspicion.

Edited by HigginsdogRN

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Persephone Paige has 15 years experience as a ADN.

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This is going to be another unpopular comment, but we're not allowed to be impaired physically, either. We are not allowed to be impaired from chemotherapy, we are not allowed to be impaired from Bipolar or Anxiety, we are not allowed to be impaired from narcotics.

Nurses not in a monitoring contract have no clue what is actually meant by "impaired." If someone with MS comes to work in a 'flare' they can be pulled from the floor for being 'impaired' and referred. 

We have rights, we can't (or shouldn't) be fired. But, the rights of the patient supersede our right to work if a disability is interfering or has the potential to interfere with patient care and safety. Then, get ready to have to prove you are safe after being referred.

Monitoring programs include physical, mental and chemical impairment.

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subee has 45 years experience as a MSN, CRNA.

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On 6/4/2019 at 10:12 PM, LC0929 said:

Well, alright then....consider this for a quick minute....how many of us have worked with colleagues who were extremely obese and/or close to retirement, and possibly not the first one on the scene of an emergent situation, due to their physical condition? One could argue that they also work “impaired” if they are having a rough day....my point is this....there are enough nurses who have worked and continue to work, GENUINELY impaired....the nurses that are truly addicts.....the ones who, for instance, use a syringe to pull fentanyl out of a patch on a dying patient to feed their addiction....yes, it happens....my question is should all of these nurses be judged and treated the same across the board? I don’t think so.... I firmly believe that addiction and treatment have become big business and that is why they push for IPN or something similar....if the states had to fork over the cash to treat their impaired licensees, I think you hear the brakes squealing throughout the entire country....just my opinion....

I remember what happened to these nurses before IPN and other state programs.  They were summarily fired, taken away in handcuffs and de-lincensed.  I'm sorry that people have to pay for some features of their own alternative programs, but the alternative in the 80's was absolute disregard for the possibility of that nurse ever working again.  

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